New Moline mayor plans and expects smooth transition


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Originally Posted Online: April 20, 2013, 5:51 pm
Last Updated: April 20, 2013, 5:59 pm
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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com

The words Moline mayor-elect Scott Raes uses most often when talking about the city's past and future progress is "we."

"It is not about me. The only way we will continue to be successful is to keep this team concept going forward. The city council, city administrator, city staff and me, we all need to work together and stay positive," he said.

The current 3rd Ward alderman will be sworn May 7, replacing Don Welvaert, who did not seek re-election as mayor. Ald. Raes ran unopposed but still put out signs and went door-to-door asking residents for their support.

City administrator Lew Steinbrecher said Ald. Raes will do a good job. "Scott has been a part of the direction the city council has been going for the last several years. He serves as mayor pro-tem, and has been very supportive in what we've been doing, addressing the financial challenges we've been facing and supports and understands why economic development is important to the community," he said.

"I expect this will be as smooth of a transition as can be expected," Mr. Steinbrecher said.

Ald. Raes did not have political ambitions in 2002 when his neighbor, MetroLINK general manager Jeff Nelson, asked him to consider a run for 3rd Ward.

Ald. Raes discussed it with his wife, Debbie, who suggested he give it a shot. "If you don't win, you don't win. I will help you," Ald. Raes recalls her saying.

He won the 2003 election by less than 20 votes, ran unopposed for a second term in 2007. He didn't plan to run again in 2011, but did at Mr. Nelson's urging. "Jeff did not find any other volunteers so I said I would do it. I was unopposed again that time," Mr. Raes said.

Late last summer, Mayor Welvaert said he wouldn't seek re-election and urged Ald. Raes to consider running.

However, he said four things needed to be in place before he would agree to run.

First, he asked aldermen up for re-election if they planned to run again. "They did. It didn't mean they would win, but I wanted some continuity on the council because I feel we have a strong council," Ald. Raes said.

He asked Mr. Steinbrecher about his plans, and he reassured Ald. Raes he would not retire or leave Moline in the next three years. "I didn't want to start out with a new city administrator. It goes back to continuity. We've got a lot of things moving forward," Ald. Raes said.

"Then I went to (Mayor Welvaert). I said, 'You can't just run and hide now. I understand you are done, but I really want your support, to have you there for questions and guidance,'" Ald. Raes said. "Don assured me he wanted to stay active."

Finally, he considered the city staff. "The city council sets the goal, Lew manages the staff, and the staff decides how they will get things done. At least to start off, everything looked solid in all city departments," Ald. Raes said.

He took out candidacy papers, as did three other people, but he was the only one who turned them in to run.

Ald. Raes said he gives all decisions deep consideration. "I want to think two, three, four years down the road. If those things I mentioned were not in place ... I would have said no."

Mr. Steinbrecher said Ald. Raes is a man of few words, "and they are words expressed only after he has given very careful thought to issues. He always asks very good questions material to the issue on which he is asked to provide direction."

Ald. Raes said he views themayor's seat as a management position. "It's about talking to the council, trying to keep all of us on the same page. The council sets Lew's goals. Lew and I will work together on how we can achieve those goals. When a roadblock comes up, we will talk about how we will overcome this roadblock."

Mayor Welvaert has provided a good example to follow, he said. "I've learned a lot from Don. I've seen him run meetings. I know his style. It works well. I plan to adopt many of his philosophies. He never pushed anyone for a vote, but he would ask and want to know where we were at on a topic," Ald. Raes said.

Mr. Nelson said Ald. Raes will be a great mayor. "Scott really loves this community and it's reflective in how he brings himself to the council and his dedication to the city on a regular basis. His dedication is not limited to the council. He is involved in a myriad of volunteer organizations and boards he works with and sits on."

Ald. Raes is excited about the city's momentum. Projects underway include construction at the Western Illinois University Riverfront campus, the multi-modal facility, new hotels downtown, Sam's Club, and John Deere Road improvements.

"Those projects are already in place. They are not what-ifs. They are going to happen and likely happen over the next three years," he said, adding that those projects will spark additional economic development.

"We will continue to move forward," Ald. Raes said. "I am excited to get going. This goes back to July, so it seems like a long time happening."


Moline Mayor-elect Scott Raes

Age: 54
Currently: 3rd Ward Aldermen since 2003, mayor pro-tem
Family: Wife, Debbie; daughter Jennifer, 26; son Scott, 22; son Michael, deceased. 
Occupation: First Community Trust, senior vice president and trust officer















 



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