The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

I Am Voting For Jessica Bradshaw and Carolin Harvey for City Council

with 7 comments

Last week, the Carbondaze Gazette reported that Mayor Joel Fritzler sent an email to supporters endorsing Jessica Bradshaw, Carolin Harvey, Jerrold Hennrich, and Blaine Tisdale for city council, and asking supporters to vote for three from that list. This weekend, Council Member Jane Adams sent an email to supporters naming six candidates (Lee Fronabarger, Carolin Harvey, Navreet Kang, Brent Ritzel, Jessica Bradshaw, and Tony Holsey) as “worthy of your consideration.” Adams noted that her list was specifically not an endorsement.

Two candidates appear on both lists: Jessica Bradshaw and Carolin Harvey. Coincidentally, I am planning to vote for both candidates. I’ll explain why below. I’ll also name the candidates I am considering for my third vote, and I’ll explain why I rejected the candidates I am no longer considering.

I wrote a lot about the 2011 election, but I haven’t had time to cover this one at all. I have been following the election, though, and I’ve given careful thought to which candidates I should vote for. I have changed my mind during the course of the campaign based on the performance of the candidates, which I believe is an indication that I have approached this election with an open mind. First let’s look at the two candidates I have decided to vote for. I’ll follow the practice I used last time and bold each candidate’s name the first time I mention him or her.

The Candidates I am Voting For

Jessica Bradshaw ran for city council in 2011 and, as I said at the time, I did not vote for her. At the beginning of this election season I didn’t expect to vote for Bradshaw, but her platform and understanding of the issues have improved so dramatically in the last two years that fairness compelled me to consider her. I was impressed with her performance in both the League of Women Voters candidate forum and the Arbor District forum. For the last year, I have served with her on the board of a local organization, and as a result I’ve had the chance to have several substantive conversations on city issues with her. I am convinced that she will make a good Council Member. If I only had one vote instead of three, Bradshaw would get it. View her platform at her website.

Carolin Harvey is getting my second vote. The city recently completed a revision of its zoning code, and regular readers know that I am keenly interested in zoning issues. The zoning revision involved the Planning Commission, of which Carolin Harvey is chair, and it is in that capacity that I am most familiar with her. In her role as chair of the Planning Commission, Ms. Harvey showed an ability to run a meeting and an open minded approach to the issues. She also demonstrated an even tempered disposition, which is important in a city council person. I am also impressed with Ms. Harvey’s record of public service during her long tenure in Carbondale.

The Candidates I am Considering for my Third Vote

Lee Fronabarger is the only incumbent running this year. Unlike most incumbents, however, Fronabarger can’t campaign for reelection, because he was appointed to fill Mayor Fritzler’s council seat after the 2011 election. The appointment was moderately controversial at the time because Fronabarger, as a council candidate in 2011, finished near the back of the pack. I’ve always liked Fronabarger’s positions on the issues – in fact, I voted for him in the primary in 2011, although I didn’t vote for him in the general election because I did not view him as a contender. The power of incumbency is strong, however, and Fronabarger does have a chance at being elected this time. I am still considering him. His website is http://ourtowncarbondaleil.blogspot.com/

Navreet Kang is a business owner and a member of the planning commission. I like the three main planks of his platform (Economic Revitalization and Business Development, A Safer and Cleaner Carbondale, A Greener and Diverse Carbondale). I did not agree with several of his recent votes on the Planning Commission, especially his vote against reducing the side setbacks on small lots. I also do not agree with his positions on the Oakland Auto Shop. Like Fronabarger, I initially intended to vote for Mr. Kang. I’ve already settled on Bradshaw and Harvey, so I can’t vote for both Fronabarger and Kang. I’ll have to decide, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. You can view Kang’s website at http://navreetkangforcitycouncil.com/

The Candidates I am Not Considering Voting For

I want to eliminate a couple of candidates right away. William Graham and Luke Adams will be listed on the ballot, but they haven’t attended any campaign events or returned any candidate surveys or questionnaires. They cannot be considered active candidates and I am not considering voting for them.

Similarly, although Karim Abdullah and Pepper Holder both attended the League of Women Voters forum, and Holder attended the Arbor District forum, neither returned their surveys to the Carbondale Times. If they are not serious enough to write the 250 word response and accept the free publicity, they aren’t serious enough to get my vote. (Fun fact: the first time I heard the name Barack Obama was in August of 2003 when he was being interviewed on WDBX by Pepper Holder.)

Tony Holsey would be a good council member. He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and is a business owner and minister. I thought his performances at the League of Women Voters forum and the Arbor District forum showed competence. I would not be disappointed if Mr. Holsey wins. The only reason I’ve dropped him from consideration is that there are other candidates whose platforms more closely mirror my own interests.

Jerrold Hennrich is a law student at SIUC. Unlike most student candidates, however, Hennrich does own a home in Carbondale. That makes him as permanent a resident as Carbondale has. Hennrich ran for council in 2011, and I didn’t consider voting for him because he didn’t seem to have any ideas for Carbondale. His candidacy this year has the same problem it had last time: lack of vision. I expect a candidate to have an agenda and to be able to articulate it. I can’t tell you what Hennrich’s agenda is, so I am not going to vote for him.

Blaine Tisdale is a law student at SIUC. We always have a few student candidates and, as I will explain below, I don’t automatically eliminate student candidates from consideration. Tisdale does have some good ideas, but I decided that he doesn’t have the long term ties to the city that a member of council should have. I hope he will run again if he stays in Carbondale after graduation, but I just couldn’t vote for him this time.

Brent Ritzel, who ran for mayor in 2011, is a full-time MPA student at SIUC. He is running as a student candidate with the goal of being the first student elected to the city council. Many people in Carbondale flatly refuse to vote for a student. I am not one of them. I will consider a student candidate who is at least in his or her late twenties and who has permanent ties to Carbondale. Ritzel, who is in his forties, is old enough to receive my consideration and, although he is not a homeowner, Ritzel was born and raised in Carbondale, giving him the permanent ties I need to see in order to consider a student candidate.

Ritzel has a lot of signs up, which many people consider a measure of support. I’d caution against using lawn signs as a measure of support, as candidates sometimes get the agreement of landlords to allow signs to be posted on their properties. Also, by creatively placing multiple signs on a single lot, a candidate can create the appearance of greater support than he or she actually has. Still, because Ritzel has a real chance of winning, I think it is worthwhile to explain at some length why I am not considering voting for him.

Here’s what I said about Ritzel during his 2011 mayoral run:

…Ritzel always seemed to me like the odd man out in this group. His professional experience is different than the other candidates and he lacks elected political experience. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – eclectic experiences bring an eclectic perspective and the public sometimes welcomes political outsiders. And Ritzel had some good ideas, notably the plastic bag tax. But considering the expansiveness of some of his ideas and the limits of his experience, I wasn’t comfortable voting for him for mayor.

I stand by those remarks today. Furthermore, I have watched Ritzel speak at several city council meetings and my impression is that his temperament would not be an asset to the council. Carbondale needs people who can work together to solve our problems; we don’t need bomb throwers.

Finally, Ritzel did not bother to return the Northwest Carbondale Neighborhood Association candidate questionnaire — this despite the fact that he is on the board of that organization (as am I). If he can’t be bothered to return a questionnaire to an organization in which he himself holds a leadership role, then I can’t be bothered to vote for him.

I’ll have a links post up on Tuesday linking to all the coverage of this year’s campaign.

Comments are welcome.

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Written by The Carbondale Observer

April 8, 2013 at 7:00 am

7 Responses

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  1. Lots of folks are sharing their likes for candidates, especially JALC Board and Carbondale City Council– so here are mine in a nutshell. “Likes” for Carbondale City Council”– Lee Fronabarger, Jessica Bradshaw and I am still undecided on Navreet Kang or Carolin Harvey. “Likes” For JALC– Cherly Cheryl McLaughlin Graff and Russ Williams– Mary O’Hara

    Mary O'Hara

    April 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

    • Mary O’Hara – Thanks for the comment! I had forgotten about the JALC trustee elections. These things are easier when the elections are partisan. Thanks for the recommendations!

      The Carbondale Observer

      April 8, 2013 at 8:31 pm

  2. Nicely summarized. FWIW, I have the same two candidates and am undecided on the third slot.

    Now…I did have some problems with Councilwoman’s non-endorsement endorsement. If any really care (and they probably don’t) it can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/scott-mcclurg/should-politicians-be-engaged-in-endorsements-carbondale-edition/10151591611213115

    Scott McClurg

    April 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

    • Scott McClurg – Thanks for the comment! I think Bradshaw and Harvey both have a good shot at winning tomorrow.

      On the question of whether or not a mayor (or council member) should endorse candidates, I think it is really up to each office holder to decide whether to make an endorsement. I imagine an official would be torn between (a) wanting to use his or her influence to help like-minded candidates, and (b) wanting to avoid spoiling relationships with candidates who might win after failing to receive an endorsement. I don’t know which I’d do if I were an elected official.

      Endorsements by sitting politicians at higher levels are common, as you point out. Racking up endorsements from other elected officials is one of the main tasks for presidential candidates during the period leading up to primary season. On the other hand, I think it is fairly unusual at the local level, at least in Carbondale.

      It isn’t a big deal to me, though, if elected officials make endorsements. After all, we elect them to govern, and if having candidate A as a colleague instead of having candidate B helps an official govern, it doesn’t bother me if the official says so. Voters are free to ignore endorsements.

      The Carbondale Observer

      April 8, 2013 at 8:45 pm

  3. Allow me to address, anonymous, several falsehoods and other very problematic statements you made in your review of me, Brent Ritzel.

    1. First of all, you imply that my “goal” in running is to be the first SIU Carbondale student elected to city council. That is not “the” goal or even “a” goal of me running, it is just an important concernful fact SIU students have never had representation on the Carbondale City Council. The election of any of the three SIU students running would change this. My goal in running is to serve Carbondale in a manner that builds collaboration between the public, private and non-profit sectors in order to implement the important and transformative ideas put forth in Carbondale’s Comprehensive Plan. I have worked in this mileiu throughout my career, including for 20 years in Chicago building a small business and for 3 years in Denver, prior to returning to Carbondale four years ago. Through leading events like the Fuller Dome Transformation Initiative (April 18-22, 2010) and the recent Fuller Future Festival (April 4-6, 2013), I have demonstrated how building strategic alliances between community businesses, organizations and the Unversity can create successful intellectual tourism events that add immense value to both Carbondale and SIU’s branding, which is very clearly stated as vital goals of the Carbondale Comprehensive Plan.

    2. The yard sign thing. First, anonymous, you make a statement completely irrelevant to how I distributed my signs, and implied that it was in fact what I engaged in: “as candidates sometimes get the agreement of landlords to allow signs to be posted on their properties.” Why do you, anonymous, feel compelled to manufacture such narratives, and apply it to only one candidate? All but three of my signs were personally placed by myself with the express, direct and personal permission of the person living in that dwelling. So yes, one landlord did place three of my signs on properties they owned, but that represents less than 2% of my signs, so that was a disturbing accusation to read. Anonymous, even though I have only been back in town for four years, I have worked directly with thousands of local residents in our community on dozens of different issues, and yes, hundreds of them support my candidacy by hosting yard signs, probably because they have actually worked with me to accomplish things that are important to them, rather than just watching and judging me from the vantage point of an anonymous living room. I find your narrative of me reveals much more about yourself, anonymous.
    In regards to multiple signs on properties. While some people may consider the number of signs up the “measure of support” someone is getting, I am a little more practical and grounded about what yard signs are: adverstisements for my candidacy for the Carbondale City Council, and a reminder of the date of the election. The most important thing to me is that as many registered voters as possible vote in this, as well as all, elections. I am a huge advocate of participatory democracy, and yes, I have never been shy about that. The purpose of the signs are to communicate and illicit a response to two ideas, Brent Ritzel is running for City Council and go vote on Tuesday, April 2013. The more signs that are up, the more the message is communicated. Once again, anonymous, you put forth a bizarre projection, this time that “a candidate can create the appearance of greater support than he or she actually has.” This a completely manufactured narrative on your part that has nothing to do with why I am putting signs up, yet you make that implication in order to, I don’t know, make me look like an ass or something, when it a simple matter of advertising cost-benefit analysis. As someone who spent 15 years of his life selling advertisements for periodicals that I published, I do come to this realm with some expertise that you consistently seem to think that I am missing. Shame on you, anonymous. Why are you very unreasonably presenting me in this manner?

    3. Okay, then, anonymous, you say that you are going to explain at length why I you are not considering voting for me, and you quote yourself fromthe 2011 mayoral race where I was running against two gentlemen that had been elected to office before (Fritlzer and Haynes), and two gentlemen that had not (Maroney and Goldman). Your criticism of me was that my professional experience was different than the other candidates and I lacked political experience. And then you indicated that you stand by those remarks today…
    First let’s take the lacking political experience thing, that you still stand by that criticism. You do realize that not a single person running for Carbondale City Council this year has ever won a political seat, don’t you? Not a single one out of twelve. Lee Fronabarger was appointed. So that part of anonymous’s lengthy explanation is completely moot, and an attempt to single me out on something we all suffer from: lack of elected experience.
    Okay, in regards to “his professional experience is different than the other candidates”? I was a small business owner, then a non-profit, and now a graduate student in Public Administration. Yes, we ALL have different professional experiences, but how on earth does my professional experience give any explanation as to why you, anonymous, would not consider voting for me? Especially when compared to the professional experiences of the others running? You are consistently not making sense in your evaluation of me. Anonymous, how can you stand by these remarks today given that have absolutely no relevance in anyway to the current election?

    4. Here’s the fun part, references to bomb throwing and people working together to solve problems. I would love specifics about any bombs that I have thrown at a city council meeting, seriously. Do I speak with passion? Yes, very often. Do I challenge that way that things are being done sometimes? Absolutely. Will I continue to work with all the members of the City Council as I have in the past? Of course I will. That is why even current City Council members that may often disagree vehemently have my yard signs up… I have been working with these folks the last four years moving the City of Carbondale forward, and I will continue to do so.

    5. This is where the reveal comes, and anonymous lets all the cats of out of the bag that he is Adam Loos, chairman of the Northwest Carbondale Neighborhood Association, and he is obviously very upset and insulted that I did not have the opportunity to complete and return the NCNA candidate quesionnarire (in Adam’s loaded language I “did not bother”), even though I am on its Board of Directors. Thanks, once again Adam, for checking in with me first before just randomly spilling whatever enters your head on your blog. Over the last week I have been going through the culumination of the two biggest events and time commitments of my last two years, the City Council election and the Fuller Future Festival, of which I was Co-Director (it just wrapped up on Saturday). Through playing host for more than a half of dozen out of town guest presenters, in addition to managing the more than 42 hours of programming, managing several event sites, and being responsible for my own presentation and presenter introductions, along with raising in excess of $6K directly from various schools, departments and organizations at SIU (you can imagine the kind of time that took), I have found myself extremely strapped for time the last two weeks. So yes, while I performed very well with in-depth plans and original thinking during all three candidate forums, due to time constraints I did make the choice not to complete the NCNA questionnaire, as I knew that most of the members of the organization where quite aware of who I am and where I stand on the important issues that concern them, as you know directly I have revealed those things through being a part of NCNA board, in addition to the fact that I knew a large prorportion of them were already supporters of my candidacy, as evidenced by the fact that they already long had my yard signs in their yard.

    6. Adam, it is really sad that you are allowing your personsal disagreements with me to completely taint any possible rational analysis of my candidacy, to such a degree that you have created false narratives and have twisted reality around in the most cynical way possible. You talk about working together to sovle problems, and this is certainly NOT the way to go about doing that.

    brentritzel

    April 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    • Brent Ritzel – Thank you for the comment. I think it proves my point on the temperament issue, especially considering the relative gentleness of the criticism you received. It is convenient that you numbered your objections; that makes them easier to respond to. I’ll do so one by one.

      Before I address your specific objections, I want to point out one aspect of your objection that is not numbered: your repeated use of the word “anonymous.” By my count, the word appears thirteen times in your reply. The only reason I can think of for that amount of repetition is that you must have been trying to draw attention to what you perceived as an attack by an anonymous blogger. But if you had taken the time to check my “About” page, you would have seen that my name is on the blog.

      I’d also add that my post wasn’t an attack on you. I just call them like I see them. I explained my votes in 2011 and I’m doing it again in 2013. You’re a candidate. People are going to discuss your candidacy, and not all of them are going be supporters. Sometimes candidates receive criticism. It’s really not that big a deal. That said, I’ll address your specific objections by number.

      One last thing. Before I get into this, I want to make one thing clear. I didn’t intend for you to take personal offense. I don’t have any disagreement with you personally. I think you’re a good guy, but I can’t vote for you because of some political disagreements. I’ll expand on that at the end of this comment.

      1. I guess I don’t understand this objection. Your campaign Facebook page mentions in several places (like here and here) that Carbondale has never had a student council member, and that you think that is a problem. You are a full time student, and you’re running for council. Surely your goal is to win. So it is true to say that being the first full time student elected to city council is, at a minimum, among your goals. You may disagree with the construction of the sentence, but it isn’t false.

      2. Again, your objection is overstated. You zeroed in on one part of the paragraph (the part dealing with landlords placing candidate signs on their properties) and ignored the rest. The point I was making is that yard signs are not necessarily a good measure of a candidate’s support, because candidates can place signs in ways that exaggerate their support.

      You correctly note that advertisement is one purpose of lawn signs; another purpose of lawn signs is to create the perception of widespread support. People like to vote for winners, and if a candidate can get a lot of signs up very quickly, he or she can create a perception of inevitability, which can become self-fulfilling. Polls asking people who they expect to win an election are better predictors of the result than polls asking people who they want to win. That’s not a manufactured narrative, as you claim, it’s a fact. See here for more on that.

      In any case, my point in mentioning the signs was not, as you say, to make you look like an ass.

      3. On political experience, you claim that none of the twelve candidates has ever been elected to political office. But you’re wrong. Navreet Kang has been elected to the Park District board. And Lee Fronabarger, who was appointed to the city council (which I pointed out in my original post, and which you point out in your comment), has experience serving in political office. But, of course, neither of the two candidates I am certainly voting for have experience in elected office, though both have experience serving on city boards.

      On your professional experience, I was trying to be delicate. I was referring to your involvement in Equitech, LLC., for whom you, according to the Southern Illinoisan, promoted a “7.5 megawatt waste steam reforming system and a 720 kilowatt solar fuel cell regeneration manufacturing center.” Sounds great on the surface, but I had the same question the mayor of Herrin had. He was quoted in the same article saying: “I would want to look at the track record further.” Did Herrin choose to embrace the Equitech, LLC idea?

      In the same article, we find the following paragraph:

      Equitech is negotiating with East St. Louis and other Metro East communities for a waste steam reforming system that is now in the design phase with funding for the $70 million project projected from government grant and venture capitalist avenues. The groundbreaking will be sometime before March, and the plant will take 18 months to build, Ritzel said.

      Was there ever a groundbreaking on that project? The point I was making is that it’s one thing to have a bunch of great ideas. It’s another thing to bring those ideas to fruition. I didn’t want to put too fine a point on it in the original post, but since you challenged me on it, I feel that I should explain myself.

      One last thing: you mention the length of my comments about you relative to the length of my comments about the other candidates. You should be flattered that I took five paragraphs to address your candidacy. I dismissed four of the candidates with just a few words. You got more space on the page because I think you have a real shot at winning. You’re a contender. That’s a good thing for you, but it does mean the spotlight shines a little more brightly on you. Sometimes it gets a little hot under those lights.

      4. On the “bomb throwing,” I was referring to temperament. I think your response to the post reveals more than I could on that topic.

      5. This is where you thought you were outing me as the author of the blog, even though I had already outed myself. It is also where you claim that I am “very upset and insulted” that you did not return the NCNA questionnaire. I’ll correct you on that. I’m not upset and insulted, I’m disappointed.

      You mention that you were busy, and I understand that. I’m often pretty busy myself. But I imagine myself in your position. I think I would have taken thirty minutes and completed the questionnaire. If I absolutely couldn’t spare the time to do the questionnaire, I would at least have taken five minutes to send an email to the organization thanking them for the opportunity to participate and explaining that time simply does not permit it.

      You also mention that I should have checked in with you “before just randomly spilling whatever enters your head on your blog.” But I did check in with you. I sent you the same email everyone else got. I sent you the same reminders — not one, but two — that everyone else got. How long would it have taken to send a quick reply?

      I should point out, though, that your failure to return the NCNA questionnaire wasn’t the reason I decided not to vote for you. It was the icing on a cake that was already baked.

      6. Finally, you conclude with a claim that I am allowing “personal disagreements” with you to interfere with rational analysis of your campaign. I’ll set you straight on that. I don’t have any personal disagreements with you. I like you. I think you’re a good guy. I think you’re sincere. I don”t think you’re crooked. But I have some political disagreements with you that have left me unable to vote for you. It isn’t personal. It’s never personal with me. It’s just politics.

      Now that I’ve addressed your specific concerns, I want to say just one more thing. When I first read your reply, I thought “my goodness, he is angry!” But as I read it again, I thought I could detect something else under the anger. I could be wrong, but I thought I might have hurt your feelings. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings and if I did, I am genuinely sorry. I want to be clear here because sometimes tone is hard to read in a blog post. I’m not being sarcastic or ironic, I’m being completely sincere. If I hurt your feelings, I am sorry.

      I mentioned it in my response to your point number six, but I’ll mention it again. I don’t have any personal disagreement with you. I think you’re a good guy. I like you on a personal level. If we were trying to elect a new friend instead of a city council member, I’d vote for you. But I do disagree with you politically on some important issues and I couldn’t vote for you. Even though you don’t have my vote, I will wish you good luck on Tuesday. And if you win, I’ll wish you good luck for the next four years.

      The Carbondale Observer

      April 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm

  4. […] Carbondale Observer: I Am Voting for Jessica Bradshaw and Carolin Harvey for City Council […]


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