Don’t invite conflict and discord into a well-run City Council
By BETH ALTENA
I have often been asked to endorse political candidates, and although I have felt very strongly about the qualifications of individuals I have watched work faithfully and thoughtfully over the years, I have always respectfully declined, feeling it is not my place to tell people how I think they should vote. I felt my endorsement would be a reflection of the newspaper as well as other staff members, whose opinions may differ from my own. After watching a heartbreaking turnover in Plainfield Township of public servants who have been not just good but great stewards of the resources of their township, I feel great regret that I wasn’t more vocal about my opinion, since regular attendance to meetings of all sorts puts me in a position to have an opinion which is based on what I am able to see and hear during many meetings over many years.
Given that regret I feel compelled to not make the same mistake during Rockford’s current council election which will put at least two newly-elected residents in the position of leadership for our city. Rockford has always had a very cooperative City Council that puts the Community first and works very well together. Of the five individuals running for the three open Council seats, four of the candidates have the experience and track record to continue that cooperative spirit. One clearly does not and that is candidate Gail Mancewicz. I believe her alliance with disgruntled residents who have been causing as much trouble for the City as possible, using scare tactics and half-truths, would not be a positive addition to a board which has traditionally be seated by thoughtful, reasonable individuals who do not have a pre-designed agenda. Gail was one of three individuals who signed the cover letter as part of a hostile process to bring the Federal EPA into our community to investigate the Wolverine World Wide Tannery Facility. The EPA has now turned jurisdiction back to the State and we have wasted over a year with the Federal Bureaucracy. It is troublesome to think someone would run for City Council when she can’t even work with her own City government. The harassment of our business community has been so prevalent that it has led to a response from our own Rockford Economic Development Corporation found in this week’s paper.
Now that possible redevelopment of the WWW Tannery site is all but dead for now, Gail and her group have turned their attention to attacking the owner of the former Burch Body Works Property next to the Community Cabin. Attacking our business community is not what we need from a City Council member. As further evidence, there is a letter of endorsement of Gail by Ms. Grace Smith in this week’s Squire. The Squire has obtained emails from members of this group suggesting the City is trying to avoid safety and health regulations and tear down the Burch Buildings before anyone would know and contaminate the Parkside Playground with lead and asbestos dust. This was after this group knew pre-demolition surveys revealed there was no lead or asbestos on site. Are these the kind of people we want setting policy for our community?
Evidence of the solid leadership Rockford has enjoyed is obvious in many ways. Our town is known for the seamless cooperation enjoyed by the City, our merchants, our schools and our Chamber of Commerce. The City has some of the most detailed environmental laws you can find while still respecting the rights of property owners. Decisions are made with an eye to long-term benefits and maintaining a quality of life of which we should feel fortunate. You don’t have to look far to see that not every community enjoys this type of teamwork.
Let’s keep Rockford moving in a positive direction and elect Council members that are cooperative, thoughtful and have the ENTIRE community’s interest in mind.