After being sidelined for the past month recovering from spinal surgery, I’m finally back to work full-time.
Thanks to everybody for the notes, calls and good wishes. Now it’s back to business.
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I’m returning to action just in time for Tuesday’s elections. Have I missed anything fun?
Actually, the mayoral race between incumbent Democrat John Spring and Republican challenger Dave Bellis was pretty tame during the past month. Hardly a tremor could be felt on the political Richter scale. But things have picked up steam in the past week.
As everyone knows by now, Bellis caused rumblings when he called a press conference last week to raise some red flags about the city’s hydroelectric proposal — one of the big projects for the future being pushed by Spring. Spring, for his part, rubbed some people the wrong way with his political ads taking credit for jobs to be created by the hydropower project, which is still in the exploratory stage.
Bellis also generated some ink when he sent out a mailer that attempted to link Spring to our disgraced former governor, Rod Blagojevich, who was indicted last week. The flyer made reference to “dirty” political contributions made to both Spring and Blagojevich from “corrupt Chicago businessmen.”
Then Bellis stirred the pot even more during Thursday’s League of Women Voters debate when he charged Spring with accepting “unethical” campaign contributions from Chicago sources.
“Some of them are convicts,” he said. “It’s just not right. It’s not ethical.”
This drew a stern response from a clearly offended Spring, who challenged Bellis to document his allegations.
“Every penny that I’ve taken is ethical,” Spring told the crowd.
But perhaps the biggest flap emerged this weekend when Bellis sent out another mailer that attempted to paint Spring in a bad light by suggesting he’s part of a wide-ranging political “family” with relations who have jobs in city or county government.
The flyer listed 16 relatives of former Alderman Terry Grussenmeyer, current Alderman Richard Reis and Spring. It said: “Mayor John Springs’ (sic) friends, friends’ children, friends’ childrens’ husbands and wives are together costing us More than One Million Dollars a Year!”
The mailer arrived at many Quincy homes over the weekend, and it didn’t leave Spring much time to respond. However, Spring quickly sent out a press release denouncing the “negative campaign tactics.” He said the mailer “shows the desperation” of Bellis’ campaign.
The press release said the mailer “strongly suggests that Mayor Spring has been responsible for hiring many of his family members and friends to city and other government jobs.” Spring added: “There is not a single person mentioned in this entire mailer who was hired by my administration.”
Spring was particularly peeved that the mailer made reference to his wife, Karen, who has worked for the Adams County Health Department for the past 15 years.
“My wife Karen has been an accomplished and professional registered nurse for over 40 years and was hired on her own merit by the Adams County Health Department long before I became mayor and long before I ever became active in politics,” Spring said.
“When I saw today that Mr. Bellis had included a specific reference to my wife in his negative campaign mail piece, I was upset and disappointed that Mr. Bellis and his campaign had stooped to this new low in attacking my own wife. What kind of man attacks his election opponent’s family? Is that who we want leading our city?”
When contacted by telephone today, Bellis said the mailer was simply designed to show voters that “a lot of money is being spent on family” in local government.
“I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s just to let people know where their tax dollars are going,” he said. “I’ll just let it speak for itself.”