Which candidate for Belleville mayor would make the best leader? It's clear that current Mayor Mark Eckert can lead; he has been doing it for eight years. The city has developed under his guidance: the downtown city streetscape, the new 17th Street connector, a balanced budget and economic growth are just a few examples.
Not all of his decisions have been good -- think the decision that resulted in the hole in downtown Belleville or some of the city's uses of tax increment financing. But give Eckert credit for not being afraid to take a position.
Challengers Phil Elmore and Joe Hayden also have leadership skills in their resumes and like Eckert, are passionate about the city. They don't have the on-the-job experience that Eckert has, but they likely could grow into the job as Eckert did.
A few questions to ask about each candidate to help answer the main question:
* Does he have vision and the ability to persuade people to follow him? For a mayor to enact his ideas, he has to get the public and the majority of the City Council to support his views.
* Is he open to others' ideas and opinions? Many people have strong ideas about how to improve Belleville's future. Good ideas should be advanced, even if they are not the mayor's own and even if that means changing directions. A mayor can't make everyone happy, but he can ensure that people are heard.
* Will he surround himself with experienced, capable people and trust them to do their jobs? Micromanaging is time-consuming and unproductive but being able to manage people and hold them accountable is required.
* How do you see him handling the next crisis? Belleville is the largest city south of Springfield. There will be an inevitable something that requires the mayor to make a tough decision, calmly address questions and do the right thing for the public.
* Would he represent Belleville well? The mayor is often the face of the city and is regularly required to speak at public events. He needs to be comfortable doing that, be it at a Chamber of Commerce dinner or a change of command at Scott Air Force Base.
Consider these questions, add your own to the list, and vote on Tuesday.