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Monday, April 3, 2023 04.29

Mayor Joliet is seeking a 3rd term as opponents stress the need for further development in the southern suburbs

JOLIET, Sick (WLS) — Bob O'Dekirk's search for a third term as mayor of Joliet has not been as easy as four years ago when he ran unopposed. Joliet's attorney and former police officer believes voters will send her back because of what she calls “off the charts” economic developments.

“In the last eight years, we have had more than $5 billion in private investment in Joliet,” said Mayor O'Dekirk.

O'Dekirk said the investment includes the city's East Side, which opponent Tycee Bell says has always been and continues to be neglected.

“When you look at what we have on one side versus the other, some people feel disenfranchised and left out,” Bell said.

The 45-year-old community strategist is considered the underdog in the race. He said the biggest problem was fixing infrastructure and water for Joliet's underserved residents.

Terry D'Arcy was O'DeKirk's second challenger. The auto dealership owner believes he can apply his 31 years of business skills to run the state's third-largest city.

“I need to do something to end my career and what better thing to do than to take this city into the future,” said D'Arcy.

D'Arcy said the next mayor should implement a 20-year plan that includes ideas to keep young people at Joliet.

“Some of our zoning is very old. We need to look at it to make sure it fits the needs of today and the needs of young people,” added D'Arcy.

All candidates agree that downtown Joliet needs development to compete with neighboring cities, such as Aurora.

“What we give to real citizens, not just people who work or visit courthouses,” said Bell.

O'Dekirk said the pandemic slowed down some much-needed downtown projects. The mayor has also faced criticism for his revolving door of city managers and police chiefs during his tenure, but he admits there is still a lot of work to be done if he is re-elected for another four years.

“There are issues here at Joliet that other communities don't and that's something we're working on moving forward,” said O'Dekirk.

Since Mayor O'Dekirk is being challenged this time, all the candidates are hoping that turnout will be better this year. In 2019, voter turnout was only 10%.

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