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Daily Journal
     May 19, 2021      #87-139 KDJ

Patience needed while the city transitions

By Ron Jackson

The sound of gunshots has become commonplace in the city of Kankakee. So much so, it is not really news anymore. But the loudest shot heard this year might be from the result of the Kankakee mayoral election. Bang. And, just like that, we have a change of the guard. The city of Kankakee will have a new person in charge. New leadership was voted in by a small percentage of eligible voters.

The challenger, 6th Ward Alderman Chris Curtis, won. The incumbent, Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, lost. The winner amassed 600 more votes and takes office May 3 with a whole lot of expectations. That is exactly how the system in supposed to work.

Kudos and good luck to Mayor-elect Curtis and thank you to outgoing Mayor Wells-Armstrong and best wishes in her next endeavor. Hopefully, now we move forward.

It is now incumbent upon the citizens of Kankakee to give support and a fair chance to the new administration. We must allow the mayor-elect to assemble a team that he deems best to move the city onward. We have no choice but to wait for him to present his plan for the city. Then hold him accountable.

It is senseless to continue to emulate the national divisiveness. We are a small community. We are interdependent on each other. There is no party-affiliated agenda to be fulfilled. All the issues the candidates campaigned on will affect every citizen equally. Public safety, taxes, economic development, pension funding obligation, homelessness are not political party, gender or race specific issues.

It would be ideal if the election results were readily accepted. It has not been. Although there has been no outcry of rigged voting machines, there has been a measurable amount of sour grapes and a hint of conspiracy along racial lines. That is par for the course. However, this race for mayor was not decided by race. Race did not and should not have mattered just as it did not matter four years ago. I doubt that we will hear too often that Chris Curtis will be the first white male elected mayor of Kankakee in 12 years. Nah. Nobody cares.

What we should care about is if the new mayor can restore the confidence of the police department in the city’s leadership as well as improve morale within the ranks. We should care about the new mayor’s process for selecting the next police chief. We should care how he networks with other organizational and local municipal leaders. We should care if the cost of legal representation can be reduced while maintaining competent representation. We should just care.

Speaking of rampant gunshots, Mayor-elect Curtis promised to work daily and diligently to reduce the incidents of violence. Like others before him, without the collective cooperation of everyone in this community, his efforts alone will not be enough. The code of silence of witnesses and fear of retribution must be given much consideration. Citizens must be assured of protection and safety for their cooperation. Resources must be committed to law enforcement along with support for the police department to do its job.

Being the mayor of Kankakee is not an easy job. If the responsibilities were minimal, there would have been more than four candidates. We are not in need of a hero. Just someone who will put forth a genuine effort to make this city a desirable place to live, work and play.

The voters determined that Chris Curtis is that person. He deserves four years to earn his grade.

But, first, Mr. Mayor, don’t forget about the pesky off-street motor vehicles traversing the city streets.

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com.

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