Originally Posted Online: March 21, 2013, 11:20 pm
Last Updated: March 31, 2013, 7:16 pm

Attracting development in 1st, 5th wards hot topic for RI candidate forum

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By Kevin Smith, ksmith@qconline.com

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Photo: Gary Krambeck
Kate Hotle, left, discusses her goals for Rock Island's 5th Ward during a candidates forum on Thursday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Rock Island. With her are two other 5th Ward candidates, David McAdam and Margie Mejia-Caraballo, in the April 9 election. A fourth candidate, Anthony Heddlesten, did not attend the forum. Current Ald. Jason Jones, 5th Ward, is not seeking re-election.

Rock Island aldermanic candidates focused on issues affecting the adjacent 1st and 5th wards at a candidates forum Thursday night in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

The April 9 election will see Ald. Terry Brooks, 1st Ward, vie for his fifth term on the city council against newcomer Ivory Clark, principal of Quad City Seventh Day Adventist Junior Academy in Davenport.

Mr. Clark said he hopes to draw more retail and commercial development to the ward than Mr. Brooks has brought.

"I see this ward progressing and moving forward," Mr. Brooks countered, saying his achievements include expanded social services, such as the women's shelter, and affordable housing. Large-scale developments such as those proposed by Mr. Clark would sacrifice the existing housing, he said.

Mr. Clark dismissed the claim, saying Rock Island can plan development in areas that will not interfere with housing.

"There's room in the 1st Ward for development," he added.

Also at Thursday's forum were David McAdam,Margie Mejia-Caraballo and Kate Hotle who are seeking Rock Island's 5th Ward seat. A fourth candidate, Anthony Heddlesten, did not attend the forum.

Current Ald. Jason Jones, 5th Ward, is not seeking re-election.

Mr. McAdam, who owns a demolition company, said his business background, along with his experience and commitment to the 5th Ward, gave him an advantage. He said his priorities include economic development, improving streets and replacing the city's aging sewers.

Ms.Mejia-Caraballo, a government employee who was 5th Ward alderman from 2006 to 2009, also cited infrastructure was among her priorities. She said she hopes to address the water main bursts that have racked up expenses for the city. Her experience on community boards, on both sides of the river, will be to her benefit, she added.

Ms. Hotle, community service coordinator with Project Now, said she hopes to bring a fresh, new perspective to the council. The youngest candidate in the race said infrastructure repairs require more revenue, and she hopes to bring new businesses to vacant buildings throughout the ward.

All of the candidates, except Mr. Clark, backed the city's decision to buy 90 acres at Illinois 92 and Interstate 280 for future development.Mr. Brooks said he had confidence in the decision, saying the city was acting proactively by seizing an opportunity for growth, much like the planned Walmart development in the city.

"If you don't go forward, you aren't going anywhere," Mr. McAdam said.

Mr. Clark said he did not have enough information on the subject.