Gurnee mayoral candidates Kovarik and Morris differ on term limits

Posted2/5/2013 4:58 PM
  • Kristina Kovarik and Kirk Morris

    Kristina Kovarik and Kirk Morris

Gurnee's mayoral candidates differ on the whether the village should have term limits for elected positions.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik faces village board Trustee Kirk Morris in the April 9 election. In addition to term limits, the candidates disagree on a variety of issues including money spent on a marketing campaign meant to lure shoppers and diners to the village.

Kovarik, a former village trustee, was elected to her first 4-year term as mayor in 2005. Morris was elected as a village board trustee in 2009.

Both candidates were participating in a recent Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interview when the term limits subject arose.

Morris, who was unsuccessful when he ran in a Republican congressional primary in 2008, said having no more than two terms at any political level is a reasonable time to serve. He said term limits in Gurnee "is something we should be doing," because fresh perspectives and ideas would be gained with more turnover.

"Career politicians are not advantageous to the community," Morris said. "But is advantageous to incumbents."

If elected mayor, Morris added, he would limit himself to two, 4-year terms if there is no formal mechanism in place.

Kovarik said she's never supported term limits because politicians should not deny choices for voters. She said term limits imply voters are incapable of making ballot selections.

"I have to earn it every term," Kovarik said. "And the voters will decide if there should be an end to somebody's period as the mayor. The career politician? I'm not making a living at this, so I don't want to put the term 'career' on it."

On another issue they addressed in a Daily Herald questionnaire, Morris said he'd push to end the Gurnee's Got It! marketing campaign that's been funded with public money in an effort to bring more visitors to village businesses. He contends the village has pumped nearly $140,000 into the program over three years, which features a website and coupons, but there is no data showing increased sales revenue.

"As stewards of the public treasury, the residents have entrusted the board to utilize the minimal revenue to the best value-to-spending ratios available," he said.

Kovarik said Gurnee's Got It! was designed to promote shopping and dining in the village, with an estimated $67,000 in expenses over three years. She said far less than 1 percent of the village's budget has gone toward the campaign.

"Many of our smaller businesses struggled during the downturn in the economy and could not afford marketing or advertising," Kovarik said, "and with the village offering a low-cost opportunity, it helped. The village has to be proactive in supporting and protecting our primary sources of revenue to fund public services."

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