WATCH: The First 2017 Mayoral Candidate Debate Held at The Masonic Temple

Freeport, Illinois — The six candidates currently running for the office of Freeport’s Mayor faced off in the first held debate of the 2017 race this past Friday. The event was hosted by Freeport Downtown Development and held at the Masonic Temple.

We were there and filmed 95% percent of the debate.

In our coverage there are three edits due to camera changes in the hour broadcast aired below.

We don’t have to tell you that and no media usually does but we believe it’s important you hear what the candidates say themselves, not what we summarize for you of what the candidates said.

The edits are in the middle of a candidate speaking and all are nearly 20 minutes apart. In all cases we only lost a few words. You have a lot to watch. You may not even notice. Therefore, the final portion with the candidates did not make this airing.

Overall, we think the debate was done very nicely. It was a great meeting with all six candidates, we enjoyed many of the questions (which we included below) and the location couldn’t have been better.

We did not enjoy that only some questions were asked of some candidates and not asked of others.

For example, asking only Mike Koester to name his top 5 campaign donors and not ask that question of every other candidate took us back a little.

Asking only Jon Staben about the building failures over the last few years and what policies he would propose to prevent future collapses and demolitions in the downtown area — and not asking everyone that, we started to feel a little uninformed and began wondering where this debate was headed.

Additionally, some of the questions were similar, only worded differently. For example, Andrew Crutchfield was asked if he were elected Mayor, what would be different 3 years from now, while Jodi Miller was asked what goals she would set for her first 90 days, 6 months and 1 year in office, if elected Mayor.

Overall, while hearing from the candidates was informative, we wanted to hear what each of them had to say about the questions.

We wanted to see if there were differences, points one could make over another regarding what’s needed in a Mayor.

When it came to the end, we were very taken back by the final question. Frankly, we were offended by it.

In addition, it just happened to be the only question asked of each candidate, as if to indicate the most important question of the debate, in regards to governing our city.

The question, How we’re the candidates “all in” Freeport.  

We think it’s important that the citizens of Freeport are aware that this “slogan” is solely derived from the A5, Collaborate Freeport, Freeport All In and All In Freeport effort.

In other words, this is a private ‘for profit’ company slogan that is actually a company out of Chicago.

  1. It did not engage the candidates to debate issues, nor did it provoke a candidate to reveal a stance, policy or any topic related to Freeport government.
  2. This was at debate venue where the public came to learn from candidates and is no place to promote a private, for profit company that isn’t even in Freeport themselves.
  3. The question is insulting. It insults the integrity of local politics, the entire format and pretense of a debate and it insults the candidate themselves.
  4. These are people running for the office of Mayor of the city of Freeport. Their dedication to our city is evident in their candidacy by itself.

On December 19th, 2015 the Rockford Register reported that NIDA, (Northern Illinois Development Alliance) had sought after Chicago based A5 for the branding of Freeport.

Here is the fee schedule proposed by A5.


This past November, as you can see from the excerpt below of the Monday, November 14, 2016 Committee of the Whole meeting, of the $125,000 budget for their program, A5 directly receives $96,000 (or 76.8%) of that.


While we applaud the efforts to brand our city and see, nor have any issue with A5 working with city leaders, local businesses and organizations to learn all about the best of Freeport, it is our opinion that no question regarding a company slogan asked as it were, should in any way be part of our city or county elections.

In addition, the question wasn’t just asked of the candidates if they were all in. A story was told to build a foundation to the question as well.

At the debate the emcee gave a history behind the question, even stating that the background of the question was long, but the question was short.

A story on one’s 47 of 49 years spent in Freeport set the pretense to the question, as if to state that the only candidate qualified, could only possibly be one whose dedication to Freeport matched the question asked.

It was on that foundation the question was proposed to all six Mayoral candidates.

We have a lot of issues with all of this and as clearly noticed in a few candidate reactions, of all the questions asked none received such an almost laughable non-serious response to the question itself.

In closing, while we did enjoy the debate, the manner in which the questions were asked left us wanting more answers and the final question in our opinion, had absolutely no business in a local election serving no purpose at the debate other than to promote someone’s brand name.

A name with owners behind the scenes, which completely negate the entire all in concept being that “they themselves” are not even “all in” Freeport.

It is with this commentary, we present you with the 1st 2017 Mayoral Candidate Debate.


Here are the list of questions asked and the candidate to which they were asked of.

Introduction and platform:
Each candidate gave a background and spoke openly.

Then it went to Community Questions:

Dave Fonda:
What are the top 2 or 3 goals you would to achieve within the first year in office.

Mike Koester:
With regard to support for your campaign, are you wiling to share with us your top 5 donors and the amounts that they have contributed.

Andrew Crutchfield:
What does the word transparency in government mean to you.

Jon Staben:
Give the building failures over the last few years, what are the policies you would propose to prevent future collapses and demolitions in the downtown area?

Jodi Miller:
What goal would you set for your first 90 days, 6 months and 1 year in office if elected Mayor?

Joe Cardoso:
As you know, ethics in government is paramount to ensuring that no conflict exist, between personally owned business and government bodies while serving as a civil servant. How would ensure that if you own a business it would not profit by being elected Mayor of Freeport?

Dave Fonda:
What skill set do you have that makes you the top candidate for the position of Mayor and explain how these will move Freeport forward?

Mike Koester:
What is your number one priority and what specific actions would you take to make progress in the first 6 months in office?

Andrew Crutchfield:
If you are elected Mayor, what will be different 3 years from now?

Jon Staben:
What are a couple of immediate changed you would propose as Mayor?

Jodi Miller:
If you are elected the Mayor, would you have an open door policy for the constituents for Freeport?

Joe Cardoso:
What is your realistic forecast for Freeport’s future in 3 years and how will it be different from today?

Dave Fonda:
What experience or education requirements do you think the new City Manager should have.

Mike Koester:
What is the number one quality you have that will make you successful, if you are elected as Freeport’s new Mayor?

Andrew Crutchfield:
If you own a business, what ethical guidelines would you put in place to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between you and the goals of city government?

Jon Staben:
What specific successes can you point to your professional or business life that you will use in your role as Mayor?

Jodi Miller:
What action would you take to prevent the continued erosion of our historic downtown buildings? What types of commitments are you willing to make in regards to repairing and stabilizing the historic Freeport City Hall building?

Joe Cardoso:
What would you do to help make Freeport a safer place to live?

We strongly encourage you to watch our interviews where we sat down which each local candidate. You can watch those interviews here or watch them above.


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