On Tuesday, April 6, voters will select members of the Beloit City Council. There are five candidates running for three positions.
All three incumbents are on the ballot seeking reelection. They are Clinton Anderson (at 27 the youngest councilor), Sherry Blakeley and Nancy Forbeck. All have served two terms and are seeking a third.
Challenging the incumbents are two newcomers, Daytoven Raleigh and John Petersen. Both deserve serious consideration and the community’s gratitude for offering their services to Beloit.
In a very real sense, though, this race falls into territory identified by that old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Beloit is in a good place, and the current councilors deserve a fair portion of credit for helping make it so.
Forbeck has served Beloit in a number of important roles. Aside from her time on the council, she’s best known as the former executive for the Chamber of Commerce, a position that allowed her not only a broad overview of community needs but put her at the forefront of change. She’s good with people, understands business and recognizes that creating progress is a job that’s never done.
Blakeley’s communications background connects her to people. Being accessible and listening to constituents is a particular skill, one all public servants should strive to improve. She’s a collaborator who brings an optimistic attitude to her work.
Anderson is young -- too young, we thought in the past -- but he has grown consistently while on the council, becoming not only an effective member but also a leader. He has been steadfast in supporting coronavirus mitigation efforts and knows the next job is to build back the local economy. He’s a strong supporter of strategic partnerships, both with other governmental units and with the business community.
The Beloit Daily News endorses Forbeck, Blakeley and Anderson for reelection.
No criticism is intended of challengers Petersen and Raleigh. They are new, fresh faces looking to serve the community, and they bring skills to the contest. Raleigh is an educator. He prioritizes job creation at competitive wages. He says Beloit needs to do better at keeping its smart young people in the city after graduation, and he’s right. Like most communities, Beloit exports too many of its best and brightest.
Petersen has a military background and experience in emergency management procedures. He recognizes a key for Beloit is to create more rooftops and grow the population. He’s critical of the city’s pandemic response, and he wants to switch to a mayoral form of government. On the business side, he says he’s a capitalist but doesn’t support big conglomerates. He has served on the city’s board of appeals and has been active in the VFW and as a hockey volunteer.
We encourage both challengers to continue looking for ways to serve, perhaps building toward elective office at a later date. And, if there’s a next campaign in either man’s future, participating in public candidate forums matters. Both Raleigh and Petersen chose to skip the key candidate forum this time. That was an unforced error for newcomers needing to introduce themselves to the voters.
As for the three incumbents, readers should not read this endorsement as a statement that Beloit is without challenges. It has plenty.
As the newspaper has reported, gun violence has been on a disturbing upswing. As a diverse community, Beloit is part of today’s reckoning with race, like the rest of the country. The good news is Beloit has been able, so far, to have that conversation in peaceful tones. The Latino population now comprises nearly one in four residents, and the challenge to incorporate those underserved people into the community remains.
There’s also a math issue when it comes to growth. Over the past several years, thousands of new jobs have been created everywhere from downtown to the Gateway Business Park. Yet the population remains stagnant, and housing growth is too slow. Truly capitalizing on job creation requires capturing a larger portion of potential residents.
Beloit has been fortunate to have a number of effective city managers over the years, and current executive Lori Curtis Luther is no exception. A significant part of the reason the three incumbents can point to success is due to Luther’s leadership. We urge the new council to continue supporting Luther, while also prodding administration to make more progress on subjects like housing, equity and gun violence.