Challengers call for change, incumbents cite experience

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — What does the city most need from elected officials: Experience or a changing of the guard?

Opinions framed much of Wednesday’s Meet the Candidates night, a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored forum for candidates in next month’s general election. Each candidate spoke for five minutes before mingling with the crowd.

The Nov. 8 ballot features contests for mayor, city clerk and the six City Council positions, for which the incumbents face six challengers. Treasurer Patricia Lulko is unopposed.

During Wednesday’s session at the Kennedy Memorial Building, “change” seemed to be what’s most needed in the city, according to challengers. Conversely, the city’s financial woes were not dismissed by current officials, who said that solving Lincoln Park’s many problems will take experience more than rhetoric.

“I haven’t heard how anyone will pay for anything,” Mayor Frank Vaslo said after hearing remarks from 10 of the 12 council candidates. “What I bring is skill and experience. We shouldn’t hand the city over to untried candidates.”

Vaslo is seeking his third two-year term in the mayor’s office, to which he was first elected in 2007 after two terms on City Council. Vaslo freely acknowledged Lincoln Park’s cash-strapped situation, citing property values that declined 10 percent in 2011, with double-digit declines expected for the next two years. The problems are many, he said, and solving them takes more than promises.

“It’s time to bring some reality to this situation,” Vaslo said.Seeking to unseat Vaslo is Patricia Diaz Krause, a lifetime Lincoln Park resident and retiree from Ford Motor Co. Krause reviewed her background in management, and said she is ready to provide a fresh perspective.

“I want to be your mayor,” Krause said. “And Lincoln Park voters want change.” Krause pledged an administration free of “cronyism or the old-boy network” if elected. “I will not make promises or excuses; I will deliver results,” she said.

Krause said she has been endorsed by the Lincoln Park Police Officers Association, which she said reflected a desire for change at city hall.

“I want to finally give the people a voice in their government,” she said.

The office of city clerk is