I have no “horse” in the race for Peoria mayor. However, when I see or hear something in the public arena that is just flat out false and incorrect, because of my experience as a former elected official for 22 years, I feel obligated to set the record straight.
Several friends gave me a “political flyer” distributed by Councilman Jim Montelongo that was filled with a number of wrong statements and false assertions. Its objective was to discredit fellow councilman Sid Ruckriegel. The prevailing political thought was the primary mayoral race for the two finalists would be between Rita Ali, Sid Ruckriegel and Montelongo.
Montelongo was not going to pick a fight with Ali, so he decided to attack Ruckriegel. Attack he did. First, for living with another man, Andrew Rand, Peoria County Board chairman, and CEO of Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois. Many were offended by the not so obvious bashing strategy. It might’ve worked in 1921, but not 2021.
Then Montelongo compared the relationship between Rand and Ruckriegel with that of Dave and Zan Ransburg. Bad decision again because he claimed Zan Ransburg was chairman of the County Board. She was not. Ever. Zan wasn’t even a committee chairman. She had no power and was easily defeated by Merle Widmer when she ran for re-election. I know. I recruited Merle to run against her because she all too frequently voted with Democrats on the county board.
Dave Ransburg ran for mayor in 1997 and lost to Bud Grieves. Montelongo, in his mailer, asserted that Ransburg lost because “many voters thought that was too much concentration of power for one couple” since Zan was chairman of the county board, which she wasn’t. Montelongo didn’t do his homework. Ransburg was elected mayor in 2001 but lost to Jim Ardis four years later.
“One couple should not control both the city and county,” the Montelongo “flyer” exclaims about Rand and Ruckriegel. Inaccurate assertion. There are 18 county board members and 11 city council members. Anyone who suggests the mayor or board chairman can control 29 duly elected fellow members needs to retake a civics course. Distribution of the mailer was a bad decision.
Heated battle for city treasurer
The battle for city treasurer has generated some political heat. In his newsletter, candidate David Beck made references to Andrew Rand and Sid Ruckriegel and their connection with attorney Stephen Morris. Morris is also running to replace the retiring Patrick Nichting, but then so are Patrick Risen and Brook Petty Sommerville. Why Beck and his supporters decided to do a hit piece on Morris apparently means they don’t consider Risen and Sommerville any competition. Beck’s newsletter calls Morris a “showboater.” Morris has announced he will decline the $208,000 salary if elected, but Beck, a school teacher, calls it a political stunt. Chuck Weaver and Patrick Nichting are supporting Beck, who’s Nichting’s son-in-law.
Endorsements: what do they mean?
Endorsements. Just how valuable are they? Someone once said they can be a “double-edged sword.” As an example, “I see Roger Monroe is supporting John Doe. That must mean John Doe is a jerk.” On the other hand, one might say, “I don’t know who John Doe is, but Roger is a friend, so he must be a good guy.” You win some and lose some. Still, everyone running for public office will seek endorsements whether running for president or road commissioner.
An excellent example is playing before our eyes and ears almost daily in the Republican Party. Candidates in the next election are already choosing sides. Republicans, like the ego maniac Adam Kinzinger, are talking about organizing a third party. Kinzinger hates Donald Trump. On the other hand, Iraq War veteran Josh Mandel, former Ohio state treasurer, has announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate. The Marine veteran is a big supporter of the former president. In our area, Democrat Cheri Bustos will again be challenged in two years by Republican Esther Joy King, also a supporter of Trump, who narrowly lost in her first try for office. That’s why Bustos spends a lot of time in Peoria to the delight of local media who failed to interview King despite her five trips to our area.
High profile politicians have gone public with support for their candidates. Retired State Representative David Leitch endorsed Sid Ruckriegel while retired State Senator Chuck Weaver along with retiring City Treasurer Pat Nichting both went on record endorsing Jim Montelongo. 4th District City Council candidate Steve Kouri has endorsements from 22 well-known past and present officeholders. When I ran for re-election in 1992, my newsletter to voters contained eight endorsements from people like Harry Whitaker, Diane Cullinan, Ray LaHood and Dick Neumiller. I stopped at eight because that was as high as I could count.
Political campaigns can bring out the best and sometimes the worst in people. We have some great Peorians running for office and they’re to be commended for seeking to help build a better community.
Quote of the month
“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” — Herm Albright