The McHenry County League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women in Crystal Lake sponsored a candidates night for the five candidates for three seats on the Crystal Lake City Council.
Two challengers–Charles Ebann and Jim Tomasello–are facing off against two elected incumbents–Ralph Dawson and Jeff Thorsen–plus appointed member Cameron Hubbard.
To knock an incumbent off one has to sound different.
In neither their opening nor closings statements did the challengers indicate how they would do a better job than those now in office.
Numerous times the challengers agreed with the incumbents, gave an answer that was quite similar to what the sitting Councilmen or didn’t have a good enough grasp of the subject to say much more than the question needed more study.
Not that the incumbents did not use the final option as well. Just not as often.
Below are some of the answers.
In a question about challenges being faced by the City, incumbent Thorsen came up with an answer different from the others. He said he was most worried about what would happen in Springfield, but pointed out that was “uncontrollable.”
He mentioned specifically the state’s sharing of income tax receipts with municipalities.
“When are we going to stop? Banning 56 ounce cups?” Thorsen asked in answer to question on banning plastic bags, which the City probably has the ability to do using its Home Rule power.
He said the main problem was with waste haulers, presumably with the bags falling out of the trucks after pick up.
Tomosello agreed saying, “I don’t think we can ban plastic bags.” He suggested making it easier to re-cycle them.
“I don’t do the shopping, ladies,” Dawson said. “I don’t bring them home. Will prople stop using them? I don’t think so.”
Excluding education, Ebann didn’t think there was much “specifically we can do.”
Hubbard also suggested encouragement, adding that cloth bags have been found to be unclean after repeated usde.
“I don’t think this is anything we should be stepping into.”
You can guess who asked about Tax Increment Financing monuments, can’t you?
“Yes, I voted for them,” Dawson said. He noted that they were “a little controversial,” but were “appropriate.”
Ebann said he was “not sure” if he would have voted for them.
While admitting he voted for the monuments, Thorsen shed new light on the matter.
He explained they were the “subject of a compromise.”
A “Lakeside motif” was being sought “and the columns were actually going to be lighthouses.”
He said the Council went from a “lighthouse to a column.”
Tomosello checked out the details with city officials last week and came to this conclusion: “I definitely would have voted “No.’
“I think it was a big waste of money. They’re not even lined up.”
Should there be another TIF district so the ornamental lights would continue down Route 14 toward Cary?
“It really depends. Possibly. I don’t know,” Hubbard replied. “I would definitely have an open mind.”
“At this point, in this economy, I’m not [inclined to support it],” Thorsen said.
“In a time [where] we have a lot of growth, I think there’s room for things like that.”
Tomosello: ‘I don’t know how I’d vote on that.”
“Boy, I voted for that one,” Dawson said, then commented on the problems the city had had with the ornamental lights.
And to the question: “Very possibly. I’d have to be open-minded.”
He pointed out that Downtown’s revitalization was a result of a TIF district.
“I’d need to look at all of the information. I’d keep an open mind on it,” Ebann added.
De-criminalizing marijuana came up.
You may remember that the Council divided 4-3 in favor of issuing tickets for possession of pot late last year, but decided to let the new Police Chief weigh in on the issue before passing an ordinance.
“I’m not big on marijuana as it is,” Tomsello started out, adding that he had never tried it.
“If decriminalization will give our police officers more time and bring in new revenue,” he continued [but I didn't get the rest of the sentence].
“I’m really torn on it. I would decriminalize it.”
Dawson pointed out that it had been brought up four months ago by the Chief of Police. He pointed out that “they are talking about i[lower penalties] across the country.”
“I am not in favor of decriminalizing of marijuana,” Ebann said.
“I am not for creating criminals [by] charging a child,” Hubbard explained. “I don’t know whether the city is read at this time. ..I’m undecided at this time.”
Thorsen: “Currently, the laws are a bit draconian. We needed to put in a new Chief,” he said, indicating he would defer to his opinion. He added that he would “rather than take a more pragmatic than an emotional [approach].”
A question was asked about waivers for McHenry County College with regard to the Watershed Ordinance.
Ebann answered, “No, I would not.”
Hubbard said he “didn’t think he would be in favor of granting a waiver, but would need” more details.
“My instinct would be not to grant too much leeway,” Thorsen stated, but added that the Council should “wait until we hear all the voices.”
He did indicate opposition to waiving requirements for impervious surface coverage or use of Best Management Practices.
Tomosello stated he would “probably say, ‘No,’” but would need more information.
“I can’t answer,” Dawson said. “I will not answer something that will be brought before me on the Council.”