Posted online: February 18, 2005 10:28 AM
Print publication date: February 18, 05 , Dispatch Argus

E.M. candidates face off in forum

By Jenny Lee,

EAST MOLINE -- More than 100 people attended a two-hour candidates' forum in East Moline Thursday.

Eight of the people running for mayor and alderman in Tuesday's Democratic primary answered questions about bringing in businesses, what will happen to the CNH Global Case plant, creating jobs, taxes and redeveloping downtown.

Mayoral candidate John Thodos, who was 2nd Ward alderman from 1995 to 2003, said he will be a full-time mayor with the salary of the current part-time position.

Incumbent Joe Moreno, who is seeking a second term, said he's missed a lot of family time to perform his mayoral duties and worries that a full-time mayor would lead to full-time pay.

Both Mr. Moreno and Mr. Thodos said they see the CNH Global Case plant becoming a mixed-use site, after the buildings are demolished over 14 months.

Mr. Moreno said he envisions high-rise condominiums or upscale restaurants along the riverfront to draw people to East Moline.

Mr. Thodos said the city needs to work with developers and other communities to create a plan to market the 150-acre site. The city will lose $400,000 in property taxes once the Case buildings are demolished, he said.

Incumbent 1st Ward Ald. Helen Heiland said she is "very proud of what I've done" as alderman for 12 years and "will continue to work for the whole city, not just my ward."

Her challenger, Connie Wilson, said she would "put people and progress before the pettiness of politics" if elected and would work to improve communication between residents and city government.

Luis Moreno, East Moline's current 3rd Ward alderman, said he does his research and makes decisions that are right for the people.

His challenger, 17-year park board member William McDermott, said the city needs to fully realize the potential of the Case site and find ways for East Moline to prosper.

Jeff Stulir, another 3rd Ward candidate, was not present at the forum.

Incumbent Rick Meredith, who faces no opposition in the primary for the 5th Ward seat, said he enjoys being alderman and is greatly honored to be in the elected position.

James Betcher, a candidate for the 7th Ward seat, said he will "serve my community to the best of my ability" and work on street repairs and alley repairs if elected.

Gary Westbrook, another 7th Ward candidate, was not present at the forum.

The incumbent 7th Ward alderman, Crotis Teague, is not seeking re-election.