By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Quincy Mayor John Spring made his case for re-election Monday based on solid city finances, a strong local economy and his two terms of paying attention to basic services.
"The city of Quincy faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and the city managed very well during this time period," Spring said.
Some other cities have declared bankruptcy and the state of Illinois owes vendors more than $8 billion, Spring said.
"Not Quincy. We have money in reserve," Spring said.
The 64-year-old Democrat said the local economy could be a study for other communities that have lost jobs. With more than 100 manufacturers, Quincy and Adams County have seen several positive developments.
Spring touted the growth of Prince Agri Products and Fitzpatrick Brothers in the South Quincy Development District. He said the expansion of Titan Wheel into the former Huck Fixtures building and the addition of 100 welders at Knapheide Manufacturing all are examples of local job creation during the nation's economic slowdown. Downtown Quincy has seen 55 new businesses open their doors in the last three years.
Job growth has helped the county report the second-best employment record in the state.
"I am still not satisfied. I want our families to have jobs. Jobs that pay better and have benefits," Spring said.
The economy has not been the only challenge for the community.
Spring said the flood of 2008 required a mobilization of sandbaggers and emergency preparations.
The wind storm of June 2011 prompted Ameren Illinois to send in 850 field and support staff to restore power to more than 20,000 customers. A blizzard in February 2011 required extraordinary efforts to clear roadways.
"At the end of the day, a mayor must ensure citizens are safe, roads and sidewalks get fixed, garbage gets picked up and at the same time, possess a vision to help our city grow," Spring said.
He expects opponents will try to convince voters that everything is gloom and doom in Quincy. That strategy will not convince the majority of Quincyans who Spring described as optimists.
"They believe in being positive. I've yet to find somebody who comes here that doesn't think this is a fantastic place," Spring said.
Some people are angry with Congress or state government but need to draw the distinction between those and local government, he said.
Spring expects that other candidates for mayor will make an issue of the city's hydroelectric efforts. In February 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted the city's efforts to win a license for a hydropower facility at Lock and Dam 21 in Quincy.
"Yes, we did receive some bad advice, part of it from FERC" which had approved the city's work with a private company before ruling that violated the licensing rules, Spring said.
Yet the bonding to repay $5 million in hydropower work did not raise city taxes, Spring said.
"My administration has lowered the tax rate the last two years," he said.
Spring has been mayor since 2005 when he defeated former mayor C. David Nuessen. It was Spring's first run for public office and he won with 6,254 votes to 5,476 for Nuessen. Spring succeeded fellow Democrat Chuck Scholz, who decided not to seek re-election after three terms as mayor.
Spring was re-elected to a second term in April 2009, defeating Republican challenger Dave Bellis by a margin of 5,266 votes to 4,483.
Before he was elected mayor, Spring spent 29 years as executive director of the Quincy Notre Dame Foundation. Prior to that he taught school for several years.
The only other candidate who has announced plans to run for mayor is Kyle Moore, a 31-year-old Republican alderman from the city's 3rd Ward. Roger Davis, who has run in several elections, has said plans to run as an independent.
Filing for Democratic and Republican candidates for municipal offices begins today and ends next Monday.