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330 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
He's 35, used to live in Chicago, and promises passenger rail to Chicago within 5 years. He is also the ex-leader of the River District Organization, Rockford's leading urbanist pro-downtown regeneration org. (think Greater State Street Council).

Here's an article from the Register-Star

'This is your election. This is your victory,' winner says

By SARAH ROBERTS, Rockford Register Star
>> Click here for more about Sarah

ROCKFORD -- Larry Morrissey took what, by all accounts, was expected to be a tight mayoral race and ran away with 55 percent of Tuesday's vote to defeat Democratic Mayor Doug Scott and Republican Gloria Cardenas Cudia.

Morrissey, an independent, more than doubled his vote percentage from 2001, when he won 26 percent to come in third behind Scott and Republican Dennis Johnson.

Four years later, an aggressive campaign that promised stronger leadership, accountability and results won Morrissey Rockford's top job.

At 9:45 p.m., with results showing Morrissey with 55 percent of the vote to Scott's 41 percent, the mayor called to concede.

Scott is the first incumbent to lose at the ballot box in 32 years, when Republican Ben Schleicher was defeated by Democrat Bob McGaw in 1973. Scott also is the first one-term mayor in 48 years, when Milt Lundstrom lost a re-election bid to Schleicher in 1957.

When word of Scott's concession reached Morrissey supporters who spilled out onto the sidewalk outside Paragon on State, the cheering reverberated across West State Street, across the downtown pedestrian mall and across the Rock River.

"Larry, Larry, Larry," they cheered, until he and his family assembled before microphones to accept their boisterous reception.

Morrissey, a former boxer at Notre Dame, couldn't help making a fighter's reference on his night.

"We went the distance last time and we came close. That was 'Rocky I,'" the 35-year-old attorney said as he stood surrounded by family and friends. "This is 'Rocky II.'

"This is your election. This is your victory." The crowd responded with deafening applause.

Promising new hope, new faith and a new day for Rockford, Morrissey thanked his family, friends, campaign volunteers and Rockford voters for sticking by him.

"Most all you, I want to thank you. All of you people who sent out a message for change today in Rockford, Illinois," he said. "Today was a powerful victory for Rockford."

Hours earlier, before the first results were even released, Morrissey's aunts danced on their chairs, anticipating the victory.

Hundreds of supporters packed shoulder-to-shoulder into the downtown restaurant, feasting on hors d'oeuvres, hitting the dance floor and slipping outside to talk on cell phones.

The jubilant crowd of about 400 people represented all age groups and races, genders and political affiliations. They sported flip-flops and drank Miller Lites. They carried Gucci bags and sipped on martinis. They wore suits and ties mixed with baseball caps.

The scene was more reserved at the Lithuanian Club, where Democratic candidates and supporters gathered to watch election returns. About 100 people sat quietly at tables, eating from a buffet spread.

Democrats began streaming in at a steady pace around 9 p.m., searching for a glimpse of Scott, who remained in a downstairs room with his campaign managers for the evening until he emerged to give his concession speech.

A visibly emotional Scott thanked his family, campaign workers and supporters as he expressed no regrets for his time in office.

"It was a great experience ... it really is the most rewarding time that I've ever been able to serve," Scott said after he left the stage. "I feel very good about how hard I worked and the job I did over the past four years, and I'll remember that. This will fade, but I'll have some great memories of the job."

The 2005 mayoral race was essentially a rematch between Morrissey and Scott, despite the presence of Cudia. Cudia, who hastily joined the race in December and struggled to secure as much cash and visibility as her opponents, pulled in 4 percent of the vote.

"I knew that this was going to be a tough, uphill battle. Like anything else, I see this as having been such a great, great experience," she said from Cliffbreakers, where Republicans gathered to watch returns. "I know that there is going to be a lot more people that are going to step forward the next time around because I have really made some people stand up and take notice of their potential, not just mine."

Nearly two hours after Morrissey acknowledged victory, the scene outside Paragon looked like a rock concert -- cars honking up and down State Street and throngs of people waiting to shake Morrissey's hand and hug their new mayor.

Morrissey and new aldermen will be sworn in at the April 25 City Council meeting.

393 Posts
Excellent, this is exactly what that city needs. So much hard work and effort has gone into revitalizing the downtown as well as nearby historic areas to the north, east and southeast; and the current leadership was doing nothing but shitting all over it. Is that downtown jail really going to become a reality? It may work just fine in Chicago, but Rockford does not have too many attractions to downtown outside of seasonal festivals and using prime real estate to plunk down a huge new jail will make it look even more desolate. In the mean time, put some mandates in place to stop that deplorable sprawl on the east side and force developers to build a decent landscape that doesn’t only consider the automobile. I mean they could at least build some fucking sidewalks along East State Street (in the vicinity of Perryville Road comes to mind), but I guess it doesn’t matter because there aren’t any pedestrians out there anyway. This is also good news that this guy is not originally from the region, and is independent of the area’s political parties, because the general attitude out there, at least from folks in NW Winnebago County, is that the “State of Chicago sucks up all of the state’s money. I don’t want any part in the State of Chicago.”

My recommendations:

1. Save all of the old factory buildings south of downtown along Main Street. This could be a great loft district with a river walk. As sad as it is to see the city decline so much from the substantial loss of manufacturing, a great urban fabric has been left over, and could be a great draw to the city if utilized properly. Again, current leadership already is fucking this up, with things such as that disgusting big-box grocery store on S. Main that nuked 3-4 city blocks. At least the side street was continued through the parking lot.

2. Give business incentives to locate downtown. The core of the city is in great shape, despite being fairly desolate, many thanks to the promoters of the River District who work so hard and revitalizing it and keeping it looking great. The region is in dire need of jobs, and with manufacturing continuing to close up shop this is extremely important to address, but this can be a great resource as well. Give out incentives for business to locate in the region, but mandate that they locate in the center of town.

3. Re-Zone the entire river front for high density. In exchange, require developers to improve the river front and extend the riverwalk through the property. This fabric already exists, but could be greatly enhanced. The increased density would create a more active downtown, as well as creating a unique urban environment not found anywhere else in NW Illinois or SW Wisconsin.

4. Work on public transit. The new bus depot downtown was great start, but now start retooling service and increasing frequency in areas targeted for in-fill and densification. Add service to outlying areas to strengthen its role as the center to Winnebego County. Light rail could be constructed for example on the old railroad ROW out to Pecatonica, and then swoop south to the airport. This could serve as a commuter line and also as increased access to the county fairgrounds.

Just some ideas there. So much potential in that town, and with new leadership good things may happen again.

330 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
He's actually from Rockford originally, went to law school at the U of I, spent several years working and living in Chicago, and moved back to Rockford.

His family has already done some loft conversions and more are on their way.

I say five years from now, Rockford will be in great shape. There seems to be not only momentum for change, but a demand for it. Regarding the east side sprawl, I don't think that's going to stop. Much of it is attracting ex Chicagolanders who commute. The key is pumping the increased taxes generated there back to the city's core. Morrissey is committed to this.

Prediction, Rockford will shock many people in the coming years. I think the most important thing is to leverage Rockford's proximity to Chicago while at the same time, increasing regional cooperation along the I90 corridor (all the way up to Madison). I think Morrissey gets this. And he also understands the need for a vibrant vcentral Rockford.

Rockford, IL
60 Posts
I believe the jail is a done deal. Last time I was downtown, they had all of the buildings on 3 of the 4 city blocks bulldozed.

As for the South Main corridor, so much potential for the abandoned factories and warehouses (Reed Chatwood, Amerock, Tapco, and Mott Brothers specifically). I cant honestly remember but isnt Tapco about 13 storeys, and right on Davis park overlooking the Rock River? Can you say GOLD MINE! I have spoke with Alderman in the past, and they have had Chicago developers in looking at both Reed Chatwood and Tapco for condo conversion. No Interest... Perhaps just a little more incentive is what they need. Like you said, so much potential.

Now the North Main corridor too.... Lets count the abandoned or nearly empty buildings... Atwood, Essex Wire, Eagle, the old Cubbies bar, the old McDonalds, numerous others. Recently bulldozed Kmart, Walgreens, old bowling alley. There are about a dozen or so all within a one mile stretch of North Main. Its not much of a start, but its a start. The old Walgreens and Kmart site, there are condos comming.
IMHO, when Rockford does get Metra service, and a north extension is built up to Bel/JV, what better place for a train station and storage yard then the Essex Wire building?

As for the riverwalks and bikepaths, I think they should be extended also, and on both sides of the river. Why not even build extensions up Spring Creek to the Perryville Path, and up Kent Creek out to Searles, Lockwood, and Anna Page forrest preserves. The Perryville Path should be continued south to the Kishwaukee River forrest preserves and those paths. Now we are talking recreation!

As for public transportation, I have always thought it was stupid that the Rockford City buses were not allowed to go to Cherryvale Mall. Point blank, the Village of Cherry Valley didnt want the "west siders" from Rockford comming over to their village and increasing the crime (shoplifting) What a crock. We will see if Mr Morrissey can fix them...

I think we are in for some exciting times with Mr Morrissey as our fearless leader.

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