Originally Posted Online: March 07, 2013, 10:36 pm
Last Updated: March 31, 2013, 7:22 pm

People pack RI municipal forum to question candidates

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By Kevin Smith, ksmith@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Incumbent Rock Island Ald. Terry Brooks, 1st Ward, left, and challenger Ivory Clark wait to answer questions about the status of the ward during a candidates' forum at Broadway Presbyterian Church in Rock Island on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Fifth Ward alderman candidates Margi Mejia-Caraballo, Anthony Heddlesten, Kate Hotle and Dave McAdam also took questions from residents about their visions for the future of Rock Island.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Rock Island mayoral candidate David Levin, center, hands the microphone to fellow candidate Rick Cassini, left, as incumbent Dennis Pauley asks for time to respond during a candidate forum at Broadway Presbyterian Church in Rock Island on Thursday, March 7, 2013. The mayoral candidates and candidates for the first ward and the fifth ward assembled to answer questions posed by voters.

Rock Island residents fired away with questions Thursday night for candidates eyeing the city's mayoral position.

With about a month left before the April 9 general election, people packed into the upstairs meeting room atBroadway Presbyterian Church, 710 23rd St., Rock Island, to ask questions directly of candidates.

Aside from the mayoral hopefuls, candidates running for 1st and 5th Ward alderman seats also answered audience questions.

Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley is challenged on the April 9 ballot by Realtor David Levin and Rick Cassini, owner ofCassini Tile and Marble.

"We've got good things going," Mayor Pauley said, citing the planned development of a new Walmart in the west side of town while saying the city has been able to spur economic growth. Future development will create jobs in construction and other areas, he said.

Mr. Levin, who sells residential and commercial properties, is returning to the race after losing by a slim margin in 2009. "My job is economic development," said Mr. Levin, who sold the property where the future Walmart is planned.

Both he and Mr. Cassini agreed that city hall should make spending cuts. Mr. Cassini said that, after heading his business for 23 years, he has noticed a "shift in the economic climate" of the city that he attributed to unnecessary spending.

Rock Island needs to aim at recapturing the young talent that often moves out of the city after graduating high school, Mr. Cassini said.

Incumbent Ald. Terry Brooks, 1st Ward,is seeking a fifth term in office and is being challenged by Ivory Clark who works in education.Mr. Brooks reminded the audience of his accomplishments in affordable housing and better social programs.

Mr. Clark, however, said Ald. Brooks has not been accessible enough to his constituents. He criticized the alderman for not doing enough to engage the community and encourage the economic growth needed to change the ward's culture.

Ald. Jason Jones, 5th Ward, is not seeking re-election on April 9. Seeking his seat areDavid McAdam, Margie Mejia-Caraballo, Kate Hotle and Anthony Heddlesten. All spoke of a vested interest in preserving the ward's historical sites to the best of their ability.

Mr. McAdam, a contractor, said he hopes to leave a legacy of making the streets safe and improving education. Ms. Mejia-Caraballo, a former alderman, said her continuing connection with the community gives her an advantage over the other candidates.

Ms. Hotle said her experience in public service would be useful in trying to bring youth back to the area. And Mr. Heddlesten plans to use his background in public works and hopes to encourage economic development downtown.

Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in the April 9 election. Early voting is scheduled to start March 25 and ends April 6.