A Change of the Guard
Another race heating up in the area pits three candidates against each other to see who will replace the outgoing Mayor of Moline, Stan Leach. The top two vote getters in the Feb. 22nd primary will get to face off in the general April 5th. Though Moline's mayoral slot is ostensibly non-partisan,there are two Republicans and one Democrat in the race, all three currently serving as alderman. Don Welvaert, alderman at large first elected to the council in 2001 and is an Operations Manager for MidAmerican Energy. Bill Adams has served on the council since 1999 and most notably served as chair of the Illinois Quad City Civic Center Authority which brought the highly successful Mark of the Quad Cities into being. Adams is a commercial agent for real estate giant Mel Foster. As you may have surmised from their day gigs, these are the two Republicans. The Democrat in the race is Pat O'Brien. O'Brien is serving his second term as councilman having been first elected in 1997. He serves in program education and instruction for financial literacy at Bethany for Children and Families, a long established social institution in the area. He's currently a member of Laborer's Union Local 309. Leach taught a crafts class at Moline High which was known as THE blow-off class. To say Leach was lenient is an understatement. I don't know if you even had to show up. So many were stunned when Leach won election as Mayor in '93...as a REPUBLICAN. His tenure there was notable for just how little he distinguished himself. Downtown development was shamelessly narrow-minded, turning it into Deere-ville with precious little reason for any average citizen to want to go there more than once. While Rock Island's downtown has constantly evolved with innovative ideas and projects, despite sporadic signs of life, Moline's has largely failed to gain anything close to a critical mass. The two Republican candidates, while having their individual approaches, generally are committed to the archetypical play-to-the-moneyed-interests style, believing there is only one direction to look for growth, and that's to the people who are already doing just fine and to focus development on catering to this narrow segment by promoting development almost exclusively beneficial to these same interests. O'Brien has pulled no punches in expressing his disapproval of many ill-considered schemes from the Republican dominated council. In contrast, O'Brien believes in focusing the city government on serving >gasp< the average residents of the city. He is opposed to a proposed utility tax (Moline is one of few towns in the Quads that still doesn't have one) and utlilizing city funds for quality of life issues such as public safety, basic services, and infrastructure. This approach is very long overdue in the Dope's opinion.Though the city has a very well done web site, even enabling residents to pay their water bills online, the fact that O'Brien is the only alderman with his own website, which suggests he'll continue to bring Moline city govenment into the 20th century. O'Brien shows promise of being able to provide a welcome change in priorities for Moline city government.