March 30, 2009

Crowd packs City Hall for YPR's mayoral candidate forum



YPR and Leadership Racine drew a standing-room crowd Monday night for their candidate forum at City Hall. It was a strong showing for the organizations and a testament to their growing impact on the local political scene.

State Rep. Bob Turner was not among the 10 candidates who participated in the forum, which was moderated by Janet Days and Scott Terry. Turner sent a message that he had a prior commitment in Madison and could not attend.

Turner refused to participate in the last mayoral candidate forum at City Hall, claiming it was against city ordinance to hold a forum in the City Council's chambers. Mayor Tom Friedel and the City Attorney's office said forums in the chambers were fine.

Lesia Hill-Driver was the new candidate in the mix. She was unable to participate in previous forums because of a family emergency.

Now, to the forum. It was the fourth time the candidates got together to talk issues and each of them seem settled into their message. Here's a look at my impressions of the first four questions of the forum:

Jim Spangenberg

The four-term alderman seems to be growing in confidence as the primary approaches. He used his story again about Dubuque, Iowa luring an IBM plant as a model for Racine and emphasized his experience as a politician and business owner (he owns Johnson's Home Furnishings in West Racine). He supports KRM.

Greg Helding

Alderman Helding had another round of solid answers to questions. On specifics, he talked about using the City Council's Alcohol and License Committee to crackdown on problem taverns in Racine. He said it was an example of him making "real changes" instead of nibbling around the edges.

Pete Karas

Karas flashed the charisma and confidence of a candidate who's thought through his campaign and the local issues. He brought up his public power proposal as a specific he'd do as mayor, and backed it up with key stats like 82 other communities in the state have their own power plants utilities. A woman sitting by me whispered in response: Is that true? I'm guessing people like the idea of public power, but they're not sure if it's possible. He backed KRM, noting gas prices alone may force people to look for alternative transportation.

John Dickert

Dickert said he's the guy to break the stalemate over KRM in the community. He likes the idea, and says more people will buy in if they realize the development potential of a train station in the city. He emphasized his local, state and federal experience.

Kim Plache

Plache said the city needs strong leadership, and she's the candidate to bring strength to the job. No doubt her state experience, both in the legislature and with WHEDA, will help her as mayor. She was the only candidate to point out the top business leaders in the Racine area testified in favor of KRM Monday at the Joint Finance Committee meeting at Case High. She also noted Racine's low housing prices will make it an attractive buy once the commuter rail station opens.

Raymond Fay


Fay emphasizes his County Board experience and reiterated his support for KRM. He has an interesting idea of having members of a Regional Transit Authority elected to office. He opposed an appointed board to levy taxes to support mass transit in the Racine area.

Jaimie Charon

Charon split from the field Monday night by voicing his opposition to KRM. He joined Jody Harding as one of two candidates opposed to commuter rail in Racine. He supports expanding bus service. Charon also noted he's a former Coast Guard officer

Q.A. Shakoor

Shakoor brought his crisp professionalism to the forum. It's clear he loves Racine - he's lived in the city for 55 years - and mentioned the Boy Scout program he leads in the city. He's a KRM supporter and would like to save property tax payers money by having the RTA funding the bus system with a sales tax. Other candidates agreed this would be a good way to improve mass transit while lower property taxes.

Jody Harding

Harding noted she committed to running for mayor last August - months ahead of any other candidate. Of course, she was planning a couple of years to run for office, not a couple of months. But she's clearly been thinking through her stance on the issues. Like Charon, she's opposed to KRM. She said local government would translate any savings from an RTA into property tax reduction. Harding says she does support mass transit, though.

Lesia Hill-Driver

It's her first forum, but Hill-Driver debuted solid. She's looking to help people, and seemed confident she could do that as mayor. She's a KRM supporter.

21 comments:

  1. WHEN WILL THESE PEOPLE HAVE A ROOM BIG ENOUGH????

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  2. Hmmm let me guess, Pete Karas is your favorite?

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  3. Property taxes will only go down when municipalities get their salary and benefit costs under control. By moving taxes to a sales tax, this allows the munis to spend on other things thus keeping the property taxes at the same level

    Lets agree to do KRM under the stipulation that if we do not hit ridership and development numbers promises by he 7th year we end the program. I am confident that his program will not even come close to what they promised. BTW, why hasn't Amtrak station in Sturtevant created mass development?

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  4. Let's link Racine (high unemployment) to Milwaukee (high unemployment) and Illinois (high unemployment). This will stimulate job creation - for friends and family of the RTA/KRM crowd. If all of these "big hitters" in the local economy want this will they mind be taxed out of profitability - or taxed into moving to Mexico?

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  5. Colts take

    Turner no show. Eating Ice Cream with the Smiths. He must go. Perhaps both Dickert and Plache real target

    Jim Spangenberg great guy understads that "out of the box" ideas work too Hevey surport in West Racine an area of the City that has the best turn out. Could help him big time
    needs to quit drinking the RCEDC Kool Aid

    Greg Helding brought up his game big time. Wrong on KRM as they all are (But two)
    Helding can get the job done.
    A good choise

    Pete Karas love Pete big time wrong on KRM wrong on his ideas to take guns
    Right on Bright Public Power Right on "Out of the Box" ideas on how top get the right focus on Racine.
    But will his anti-Gun thinking and somewhat Socialist thought hamper him as Mayor?


    John Dickert IMHO not running for Mayor but Bob Turner's seat. Seen some of the homes with his yard sign he might want to get a better quilty Landlord on his side.
    Two men I respect greatly Mick W and Monty O likes Dickert might be more to him then I thought but The KRM issue is bad.

    Kim Plache Pay to Play. Illegal Voting Carpet Bagger no thanks also running for Turner's seat

    Fay like his idea on voters getting to choose who screws them. No KRM no Fay

    Jaimie Charon Right on KRM but can not win. hope to see more of Charon in the years to come. County Board?

    Q.A. Shakoor your West 6th St Neighborhood group misses you we would like to talk about the drug dealing around the Walgreen's on North Menmoral and State St. Been over a year since we last saw you.
    Q.A, Q.A Hello?

    Jody Harding Interesting ideas. Never win as Mayor.


    Lesia Hill-Driver can someone enplane the rules about running a campaign while working for the City?

    My guess for the Two Pete K and Helding Long shot Dickert Spangenberg( If Jim can get West Racine to vote he wins)

    Turner loses here and his seat should he run again. The last hurrah Nice to see Kim P turn into a Shark.
    Side thought Cole Beats Fair

    Your mileage may vary.

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  6. YPR and Leadership Racine drew a standing-room crowd Monday night for their candidate forum at City Hall. It was a strong showing for the organizations and a testament to their growing impact on the local political scene.

    How much did the ad cost? And truth in advertising?

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  7. it was great to see YPR & Leadership Racine represented by two african americans, Janet Days and the other gentlemen sitting next to her keeping the time. Good forum YPR & LR!

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  8. We could not attend last nights forum, I'm glad CAR25 will be showing these, It's great to be able to watch and judge for yourself. Thanks CH.25

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  9. There is another forum tonight on WRJN. Tune in to AM1400 at 6.

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  10. Colt.

    QA has ALWAYS been responsive to the citizens of the district he represents. He is no more than a phone call or e-mail away. I would say without a doubt, if you contact him, he WILL take action.

    On the allegations in regards to drug dealing, if you have the facts, why have you not contacted the Police Department? Also, there is a good COP Officer in area you can contact.

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  11. Not only have we done that 10:50 we would also like to tell Q.A. in person or did we elect his voice mail to office?

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  12. The people who actually rehabbed the West 6th Street neighborhood should be PISSED OFF that the Q.A. is taking credit for their work. Maybe Q.A. drove by and waved a couple of times while they were doing the actual work. All he did for West 6th Street was buy a completely rehabbed house for about $40 grand less the tax dollars that were dumped into it.

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  13. Colt - who are you and why do you think we care what you have to say? Maybe it's time for you to leave.

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  14. I just saw the forum on CH25 and it was cool. I really am starting to like Helding's way of thinking.

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  15. 6:25

    Who is John Galt?

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  16. Who me? No, not Karas at all. It just seems we're always jammed in for these things. Is this the best these groups can come up with? What about a high school or something? You know, raise a little money for Unified.

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  17. No matter who gets elected. I am sure it will not be Plache or Turner. The fact that Plache will not be on the school board is such a gift. Turning losing his representative seat. Bonus.

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  18. I agree Janet did a great job hosting this fourm! Maybe she should run!!!

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  19. In re: to Dickert's claim to bringing development to Racine, he was the broker who profited from his relationship with the former mayor. Money was the mover not civic duty.

    Turner will install his 'person' the former alderperson of the 4th who followed him to MAdison. Kinda Jim and Joyce all over again except she'd be out in the open.

    And Helding's idea about Jacato Drive apts. is so shortsighted. The city would have to pay these cockroaches (along with the good people who'd also lose their homes) to take their homes. A couple million bucks and they'd relocate...where?

    Karas? 'Bright Public Power' was attempted several years back. What happened to it? Did it go the way of other ideas that he has come up with?

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