As Rockford gets ready to say farewell to Mayor Larry Morrissey, we must not forget that the city must now move on, whether we are happy with the job he did the last 12 years or we are counting the days until he’s gone.
Morrissey has been known for his efforts to revitalize downtown, which has seen an uptick in activity. This includes City Market and many new storefronts and shops.
Morrissey was also par of a couple of controversies regarding our former police chief and possible conflicts of interest regarding developments he had with his father prior to getting elected. Regardless of the true nature of those controversies, Larry, and Rockford, weathered the storm.
It is now time to look at what is now five candidates to take his place. Tom McNamara, who is the current Third Ward alderman seems to be a frontrunner.
Then there is Rudy Valdez, a retired executive and community activist, Brian Leggero, a business owner, Pam Connell, the 12th Ward alderman, and Ronnie Manns, a military veteran and business owner.
Each candidate brings different things to the table. McNamara has a name connected to his father, former Rockford Mayor John McNamara, who helped bring Rockford though very troubling times in the 1980s. Rudy Valdez has ties that some say will result in another Morrissey administration. Good or bad, maybe that is what Rockford needs.
Either way, we need to do our homework. Tom McNamara does, in fact, have the name. But he’s also been on the council for four years and isn’t just a former mayor’s son. He is a bright young man who cares about the city.
So, as it stands, it looks like McNamara is in the lead as far the popularity contest.
But will a vote for the most popular candidate be the right vote? Maybe, maybe not. Manns, Leggerro, Connell or Valdez may have skills McNamara lacks. The only way to find out, Rockford, is to talk to your candidates. Go to their functions and get to to know them.
Each candidate has made enough public appearances since they decided to run and are very approachable people. And they will have a lot more events, too. Leggero and Connell face each other in the Republican Consolidated Primary Feb. 28. So, one of them won’t be on the ballot in April.
But, if those of you who feel one of them would make a good mayor, get out and vote for one of them. Don’t let trends or what others may say about a particular issue or candidate sway you from voting who you feel is the right person to succeed Larry Morrissey.
Get out and vote for the best candidate, Rockford, not just the most popular!
—Dale Sipple, Rockford, Illinois