Posted Online: April 06, 2013, 11:35 pm

Colona mayor candidates divided over increased property-tax levy

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By Lisa Hammer, rlhammer@qconline.com

Photo: Submitted
Rick Lack
Photo: submitted
Larry Lee Ropp, 3rd ward Alderman candidate in Colona
Photo: Submitted
Rich Holman
Photo: Submitted
Rafe Thrasher
COLONA -- Colona residents will decide a three-way race for mayor and a pair of aldermanic races when they go to the polls on Tuesday.

Ald. Rick Lack, former Ald. Donald Ropp Jr. and newcomer Erik Brown seek to replace incumbent Mayor Danny McDaniel, who decided not to run after having held the office since 2001.

Mr. Lack, a retired police officer, served on the commission that investigated the Green Rock/Colona merger in 1995, and he has been on the TIF commission since 1997. He also served on the comprehensive planning commission before his election as an alderman.

He said he thinks the increases in the property-tax levy and the water/sewer rate hike were necessary.

"Both of them were something that needed to be done. Both were overdue," he said.

He said the $3 million bond issue is for projects that have to be completed -- improvements at the water-treatment plant and the Hennepin Canal sewer crossing. "Most everyone in town knows who I am and what kind of person I am, and I hope they'll keep that in mind," he said.

Mr. Ropp said the 20 percent increase in property taxes this year is "unprecedented."

"I've been telling them for years that the budget needs to be balanced," he said. He said Colona needs alternate revenue sources and economic development to offset property taxes.
He also said government should be open and honest.

"I don't think they have been," he said. "They never come up with a plan. What's their plan other than to raise taxes all the time? They need to explain to the people why they are doing it.

"My whole platform is to move the town forward. We're lagging behind and losing businesses."

Mr. Ropp said his expertise is in making a living running big jobs that other candidates don't bring to the table.

Mr. Ropp said there are a lot of things that could be looked into and make things better, and one would be to have very few closed sessions. "Strict adherence to the Open Meetings Act," he said.

"Voters need to get out and vote," he said, noting sometimes 300 or 400 people decide elections in the town of 5,000 residents. "The election is for four years, so take a half hour out of your day and go and vote."

Mr. Brown said he just wants to get involved and serve the community.

He said the property-tax levy, along with the increase in water and sewer rates and the proposed increase in bond indebtedness, are "a big hit; kind of a devastating blow," but he said the city is trying to prepare for more equipment needed at the water plant.

He said whether the city has a community service officer enforce codes or uses its police depends on finances and the budget.

"My priorities would start with protecting life, serving the community, transparency with the city, continued fiscal responsibility and developing Colona with more business and more urban development."

He said there are many houses being built in Colona and he would continue that support.
"I am a candidate that's young, yes, but I want to serve the community rather than to be served," he said.

Aldermanic races

In addition to the three-way mayoral race, there are two contested aldermanic races.
In Ward 3, Patricia L. Ruhl and Larry L. Ropp are vying for election.

In Ward 4, Rafe Thrasher is running against Rich Holman, who was appointed to fill-out the term of Clinton Sullivan, who moved out of Colona.

Also in Ward 4, Jen Roth is unopposed for an unexpired two-year term. Incumbent Jack Richardson is running unopposed in Ward 1.

There is no candidate for election in Ward 2, meaning the new mayor would need to appoint an alderman with the board's approval.




NAME: Rick Lack
AGE: 53  
ADDRESS: Colona
OCCUPATION: Retired Henry County deputy sheriff. Now working part time at Farm & Fleet, Moline
FAMILY: Wife, Denise; three children and one grandson
EDUCATION: High school graduate and police training
POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
OFFICE SOUGHT: Colona mayor
PREVIOUS OFFICE: 2nd Ward alderman (last 4 years)
WHY RUNNING: I would like to see the city continue to operate in a financially responsible manner and provide responsible service to our residents.
KEY ISSUES: We have some major infrastructure projects in the works that need to be overseen. We need to encourage economic development especially in the city's Route 6 corridor. And we need to support our city employees.
COMMENTS: I have been involved in government and city activities for more than 30 years and would like to continue to serve our citizens.

NAME: Erik Brown
AGE: 31
ADDRESS: Colona
OCCUPATION: Firefighter/paramedic for the city of Moline
FAMILY: Wife, Carrie; daughters, Lillian, 4, and Alivia, 3
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in law enforcement and justice administration from Western Illinois University
POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
OFFICE SOUGHT: Colona mayor
PRIOR OFFICE: None
WHY RUNNING: I want to get involved in the community where I live to protect my family, home and neighbor.
KEY ISSUE: Protect life, serve the community, fiscal responsibility, transparency with city hall, promote Colona for more urban development.
COMMENTS: I have a strong desire to serve rather than to be served, as mayor always seeking what is best for the whole rather than one individual or group.

NAME: Larry Ropp
AGE: 56
ADDRESS: Colona
OCCUPATION: Fire protection inspector, John Deere Quad-Cities and Colona farmer
FAMILY: Father, Don Ropp; brothers, Donald Ropp Jr. and Raymond Ropp; sister, Sena Ropp
EDUCATION: Associate's degree Black Hawk College; Bachelor of Science from Illinois State; Master's degree UCLA and Phoenix University
POLITICAL PARTY: Independent
OFFICE SOUGHT: Colona 3rd Ward alderman
PRIOR OFFICE: None
WHY RUNNING: To lend my experience and integrity to help the city and business community I grew up in.
KEY ISSUE: To represent the "people" to ensure a more open city government and accountability from its members.
COMMENTS: I grew up in Colona, and my family members have been longtime residents being very active, participating in many of the organizations and events within the community. I plan to rebuild the family farm into a U-Pick berry farm. You might say my interests and "roots" are in the area.

NAME: Rich Holman
AGE: 39
ADDRESS: Colona
OCCUPATION: Police officer city of East Moline
FAMILY: Wife, Brenda; two daughters, third child expected in May
EDUCATION: Moline High School, Associate's degree in criminology from Black Hawk College and attended Western Illinois University
OFFICE SOUGHT: Colona alderman
PRIOR OFFICE: Appointed Colona 4th Ward alderman in November 2012
WHY RUNNING: I care about the community that I reside in, and I want to be the voice of the citizens of Colona.
KEY ISSUE: I want to focus on economic development within Colona, which will build a stronger tax base and begin to lessen the tax burden on the citizens. I have been involved with business throughout my whole life, and I believe my business experience will be an asset to the city.
COMMENTS: I am chairman of the Colona Police Commission. I also have served on the East Moline Fraternal Order of Police, Labor Council and am current president of the East Moline Police Benevolent Association and president of the Police Benevolent Association of Illinois. I have been endorsed by former 4th Ward Ald. Clinton Sullivan for the upcoming election.

NAME: Rafe Thrasher
AGE: 31
ADDRESS: Colona
OCCUPATION: IT professional
FAMILY: Wife, Abigail
EDUCATION: USAF veteran, bachelor's degree in education from Western Illinois University
POLITICAL PARTY: Independent
OFFICE SOUGHT: Colona 4th Ward alderman
PRIOR OFFICE: None
WHY RUNNING: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke.
KEY ISSUE: Taxation without representation. Our city council, with the support and vote of Rich Holman, my opponent, voted for and passed a measure that increased our property taxes by 20 percent. Do you think that this is true representation? Legal plunder would more aptly describe it.
COMMENTS: If I am elected, I promise to let the principles of liberty and our Constitution guide me in all matters. Furthermore, I will fight against the top-down dictates of a city council that wishes to ignore any dissenting voices. I am also a United States Air Force veteran.