Belleville

Cook, Eckert to face off in mayoral candidate forum

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, left, is being challenged by City Clerk Dallas Cook in the April 4 election. They are scheduled to appear at a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Douglas School gym.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert, left, is being challenged by City Clerk Dallas Cook in the April 4 election. They are scheduled to appear at a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Douglas School gym.

The two candidates running to be mayor of Belleville will have at least two nights to meet face-to-face before the April 4 election.

City Clerk Dallas Cook and Mayor Mark Eckert are scheduled to attend the Highland Neighborhood Association candidate forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Douglas School gym at 125 Carlyle Ave.

Cook and Eckert also have been invited to attend a mayoral debate sponsored by Lindenwood University-Belleville and the Belleville News-Democrat at 7 p.m. March 28 at Lindenwood at 2600 W. Main St.

Eckert has been mayor since 2004 and is being challenged by Cook, who was elected city clerk in 2013.

Donna Young, president of the Highland Neighborhood Association, said her group sponsors the nonpartisan candidate forum because “people need to be informed.”

“We look out for each other,” she said.

The public is invited to attend the forum.

The Highland Neighborhood Association forum will follow this format:

▪  Both candidates will have up to 5 minutes for opening remarks. A drawing will determine who goes first.

▪  Questions from the audience will then be entertained for up to 60 minutes. Both candidates will have up to two minutes to respond. Young will give a signal at the 60-second mark and the 30-second mark and when time has expired.

▪  The moderator is Mike Neff, treasurer of the neighborhood association. “The audience will be instructed to not ask personal, specific” questions such as issues regarding their own property or a pothole on a specific street, according to the rules. However, a general question such has, “How do you plan to address the needs of our neighborhood streets, including potholes? ... is appropriate,” according to the rules.

▪  Both candidates can make a three-minute summation following the questions.

Following the mayoral forum is a forum for the two candidates running to be the alderman for Ward 7, current Alderman Trent Galetti and challenger Dennis Weygandt.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert says he plans to run for re-election in April. He began serving as mayor in 2004.

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