By Steve Robinson | April 19, 2019 - 10:44 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – April 15 marked the last Normal Town Council meeting for two of the governing body’s members – one who wrapped up serving a third term for a second time before deciding not to run for re-election, and one who was looking to continuing on the Council beginning his second term.

For Jeff Fritzen, a number of factors came into play for him to make his decision last fall to not seek another term. At 66, Fritzen has served Normal Town Council as a member in two separate but lengthy stints. He first ran and won in 1983. He ran for re-election three times before opting for a break prior to the next election in 1999. His hiatus from local politics lasted one election cycle and he returned to the Council after winning election again in 2003. Since then, he has run in and won re-election three more times.

For 45-year-old R. C. McBride, his venture as general manager of WGLT FM 89.1, the National Public Radio affiliate operated by Illinois State University will get a little busier as it was recently announced WGLT will begin taking over operation of Bradley University’s NPR affiliate, WCBU FM 88.9.

But when the ballots were counted, newcomer Stan Nord led the race garnering 2,928 votes, or 19.60 percent of the vote, leading all competitors. And he wasn’t the only newcomer now with a seat on the dais in Council Chambers on the fourth floor of Uptown Station.

Karyn Smith finished third in the race which had two incumbents, six declared challengers, and a write-in candidate. Smith had 2,092 votes, or 14.01 percent of the vote. Incumbent Kathleen Lorenz placed second in the results with 2,165, or 14.50 percent of the vote. McBride placed fourth in his quest for a second term on the Council, receiving 1,913 votes, or 12.81 percent of the vote. Challengers Dave Shields, Pat Turner, Joel Studebaker, and ISU student Alex Campbell placed fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectfully, in the final tally. Write-in candidate Karl Sila placed ninth.

Fritzen Sought What’s Best For The Town: “There’s always a degree of uncertainty when you remove yourself from something like this and your hope is the Council can continue to function as it has in the past for the benefit of the Town,” explained Fritzen, executive vice president at Bloomington Offset Process, Inc. “We had a transition recently with a new city manager and now a transition with a couple new Council people, so those things present challenges and they present opportunities.” Last spring, Deputy City Manager Pam Reece was named to succeed Mark Peterson as City Manager upon his retirement.

For himself, Fritzen said, “Personally, I think I have just reached a point where, for me, to be involved in something like the Council, your heart has to be in it 100 percent. It got to a point that I couldn’t guarantee that.” He said he will now encourage, support, and observe the actions of Council from the sidelines.

Fritzen’s decision came, he said, after “several weeks of what’s best for the Town, what’s best for me, for my family.” He said he also checked himself on how he gauged his level of commitment which being a Council member requires. He said that included reflecting on the level of involvement he had dedicated to the post in the past. “I think I came to that point to where it was time to step aside. I stepped aside because I didn’t feel I could bring the same level of commitment to the office” that had been put forth in the past.

Fritzen said he leaves local politics with no unfinished business still needing addressing. “I wasn’t one to bring my own personal agenda to the office,” he said. He added that the only times he had any kind of goal-setting related to seeking office was related to the proposed Uptown redevelopment plan, and in 2005 when he ran for mayor, squaring off against current incumbent Chris Koos.

McBride Eyeing Improvements To Benefit Normal Library: For R. C. McBride, general manager of ISU’s NPR affiliate, the location of Normal Public Library and suggestions as to where a potential future library could be located were items he had considered addressing were he to have won election to a second term. “The library’s programming has clearly outgrown its footprint,” McBride said. “Whether that means rebuilding or upgrading on the current site, or building something in what would be Normal 2.0, something’s going to have to be done.” Uptown 2.0 is the name given to what the Town hopes will become the second phase of its master plan for continued growth and updating for the community.

“Every time there has been a large investment like that, the Town has had a revenue stream for it,” McBride reminded. At this point in time, he said, “there was no clear cut revenue stream for it.”

Both Fritzen and McBride praised the Town’s administrative staff for the work they do to help bring basic services to the residents of the Town.

Advice From Outgoing Members To Nord, Smith: As they exit the local political stage, Fritzen and McBride each had some advice to pass along to Nord and Smith as they prepare to take the oath of office to start May 6’s Council session.

“I would tell them you are elected to represent and not to look back over your shoulder and ask permission to represent,” Fritzen said. “Once you’re elected, you have to have an open mind. You have to see how things really work from the inside to gain an understanding.” He recommended Nord and Smith gain an understanding of how the Town operates, and to respect the roles of those in the positions of city manager as being its Chief Operating Officer, and their roles as Council members.

“Remember you’re not going to make everyone happy no matter what you do,” McBride added. “That’s one of the reasons the job is difficult. Another piece of advice is: When people are unhappy, don’t take it personally. It’s not necessarily about you as an individual.” He also suggested Nord and Smith keep a sense of humor.

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