Straight Talk | The race for mayor



Lots of people have announced they’re running for mayor of Peoria, some others are undecided and that includes current City Hall leader Jim Ardis. WMBD-TV keeps announcing Ardis has declared. He hasn’t. Rita Ali, elected just a year ago to the City Council, has thrown her hat in the race and 4th District Councilman Jim Montelongo is leaning toward doing the same after telling everyone he’ll not seek re-election. Speculation is 2nd District Councilman Chuck Grayeb is considering jumping into the mayoral contest. All the others who’ve announced have no chance. They don’t have the experience, name recognition, and most importantly, the money. It takes a lot of money to successfully compete in primary and general elections.

The rumor persists that State Representative Ryan Spain is being encouraged to run for mayor. He appeared on our morning show, “Breakfast with Roger and Friends,” and said he was flattered by the rumor. While he didn’t give a clear answer, he did suggest anything could happen between now and the last day for filing. We’re pretty sure Ryan would not run if Ardis seeks re-election. They’re close friends. However, the rumor persists if Ardis steps down, then Spain would not only seek to replace him as mayor, but would urge Ardis to run as his replacement in the State House. Since both are employed at OSF Healthcare, the health organization would have to give its permission for such a political development to take place.

Meanwhile, a new name has entered the mayoral picture. Maybe. A big name. A popular name. Former city councilman and current 10th Circuit Court Judge Steve Kouri has been approached to consider running for Mayor. Kouri served on the City Council with distinction and was elected to the court in 2002. He earned his B.A. from Creighton University and a law degree from the University of Illinois. Kouri is given credit for leading the successful campaign to bring the Illinois High School boys basketball tournament to Peoria, though he says many people deserve credit. That’s the kind of man Steve Kouri is. Though I no longer live in Peoria, my roots and love for Peoria remain. He would not only be my choice, I would urge him to seek the office and join the long list of outstanding people voters have elected for mayor of Peoria.

More political notes

I’ve been involved in politics for decades. I started as a teenager helping my Dad place yard signs when he first ran for city council for the 10th Ward. He served for eight years on the Council and the next 40 years as “Overseer of the Poor,” later titled Supervisor of General Assistance. I can’t begin to tell you how many of his signs were destroyed and stolen. I even caught a guy red-handed and followed him home. Apparently, he had been “on relief” and was removed for failing to meet state guidelines. I told him in certain “non-state guidelines” not to do it again. I did not call police and have him arrested for stealing/damaging a $5 political yard sign as did Peoria County Auditor Jessica Thomas. She filed charges against a 75-year-old man for stealing her sign and WMBD-TV covered the non-story on its newscasts. No offense to Thomas who’s been on our morning show, but that’s “bush league” political behavior. I’ll be glad to contribute $5 to the Thomas campaign for the cost of the missing sign and another $5 toward a subscription to AARP for the 75-year-old “criminal.”

LaHood urges no vote for Kilbride

Former Congressman and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has released a stinging rebuke of State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride asking voters to vote no on retaining the judge in the November election. LaHood says Kilbride has taken close to $4 million in contributions over the years from House Speaker Mike Madigan of Chicago. Madigan is currently under investigation by the F.B.I. in a case involving bribes made by Commonwealth Edison. An Illinois House committee is also holding hearings into Madigan’s alleged involvement. LaHood said Kilbride cast the deciding vote to prevent voters from deciding whether legislative and congressional district lines should be drawn by an independent commission. Madigan was against the proposal, LaHood said, so Kilbride killed the measure. Bottom line, says the veteran statesman, it’s time to vote no to retain Kilbride who’s been on the Illinois Supreme Court for 20 years. I agree. Send him back to Chicago to traffic court.

We get letters

I love it when readers of my column write in response to something I wrote, especially when they agree. Let’s be honest. However, reader Marilyn Leyland didn’t like my claim that there was no one locally to replace historian Norm Kelly following his recent death. Her letter appears in this October edition. Of course, there are people who can and will write historical pieces about Peoria, as they should. My point is Norm had a unique writing style, a life-long personal relationship with the city and its people and a rare and extraordinary personality unmatched by anyone. I stand by my words.

Quote of the month

“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”
— Dalai Lama

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