4 challengers aim to unseat Harvey mayor

March 30, 2011 5:05:48 PM PDT
Harvey is one of several suburban communities where residents will be voting in a race for mayor next Tuesday. Four challengers are trying to unseat incumbent Mayor Eric Kellogg.

Harvey is a south suburb just east of where Interstate 57 and the Tri-State Tollway converge. For the last eight years Kellogg has been the mayor. He is running for re-election, saying an experienced mayor is what's needed to bring more jobs to Harvey.

"We stand at a very critical point in the history of Harvey," said Kellogg. "We cannot risk someone with inexperience. We cannot risk bringing someone in her who is not connected to economic development projects."

At a recent forum sponsored by the Dolton-Harvey-Riverdale League of Women Voters, the four candidates opposing incumbent Mayor Kellogg addressed concerns. Among the topics were vacant houses, crime and the city's finances.

Chuck Givines is a one-term alderman. He had planned to retire but says the city needs his leadership to become more fiscally responsible.

"I ran simply because a lot of people asked me," said Givines. "I know what we have to do to make this town come back and be viable."

Park District Commissioner Brenda Thompson says crime needs to be addressed for the safety concerns of residents and the city's economic future.

"We first have to let them know we're safe. The residents are safe. The businesses are safe," said Thompson. "Then we will market our city to bring in economic development with new businesses so we can create jobs. Our people need jobs."

Eric Patterson is also a park district commissioner. He wants to put police officers on bikes in the summer to prevent crime and build relationships with residents.

"The children can't come outside and play, and they're being murdered, and the crimes are not being solved, and our seniors are afraid to come out and take a walk even in the daytime, then that becomes a problem," said Patterson.

Rounding out the candidates for mayor is the only non-city official in the race. Ronald Cummings is the founder of Last Call Ministries, where he offers shelter and vocational training to men.

"We can start fixing up these houses for people that need the houses," said Cummings. "On my block where I live, I was the only house on my block with Christmas tree lights. This is a depressed community."

Candidates have five more days to get their message out to voters before Election Day on April 5.

Early voting for next Tuesday's election ends Thursday at all Illinois jurisdictions.

So far, 15,000 ballots have been cast in early voting in Chicago. The city will more than double the 8,000 early voting ballots cast before the aldermanic runoffs in 2007, but that was before early voting started to catch on.