With only four weeks to go before Bettendorf’s special election for 3rd Ward alderman, a lone candidate who’s already well known around City Hall has entered the race: Former Community Development Director Bill Connors.
Connors announced over the weekend he would seek the office, pointing to his 20 year-career with Bettendorf’s city administration as a big reason why 3rd Ward residents should elect him. Reached by phone Monday, Connors said he’s grateful for his long career in city government and wants the opportunity to give back to his community.
“I want to be able to help the residents of the city,” Connors said. “I want to be responsive to their needs. If people have concerns or issues in the 3rd Ward, I want to be there for them.”
Connors, who retired in April, filed his papers to run for election with the Scott County Auditor’s office Monday morning, becoming the first candidate in the race just five days before the Feb. 8 deadline. Should no other candidate file by then, Connors would have the significant advantage of being the only name on the ballot when voters head to the polls March 5.
The vacancy on Bettendorf’s city council comes after the death of longtime Alderwoman Debe LaMar, who was first elected to represent the southwest-side ward in 1997. LaMar, who retained the seat uninterrupted for 20 years, died in November following a long bout with cancer. She was 61.
On Monday, Connors called LaMar a friend, saying she was “a very considerate person” and a good council member.
“I would just as soon that the third ward seat was not available at this time,” he added. “But we don’t have any control over that.”
A mainstay in Bettendorf City Hall, Connors took an early-buyout offer last year along with 13 other veteran employees, part of an effort by the city to patch a $1.2 million budget hole. Since then, Connors says he picked up a part-time gig with Indiana-based automotive Gurley-Leep Automotive Family as a liaison between corporate officials and local contractors.
Connors said he’ll have “a very short learning curve” if he’s elected, noting most of the decisions made by ward aldermen affect the entire city. He also said he has no axe to grind with the city’s elected officers or employees, saying “those relationships will make me a very effective council member.”
Under state law, city officials can fill a vacancy through a special election or by appointment. In January, Bettendorf aldermen asked the Scott County Auditor to schedule a special election, saying the 3rd Ward residents should choose their next representative.
“I think that’s the easiest way to replace (LaMar),” Alderman Scott Webster, 5th Ward, said during a council hearing last month. “Because I don’t think I’d want to pick somebody to replace her either.”
If Connors wins, he’ll need to stand for reelection in November – something he already says he’d want to do. For now, he plans to spread word of his candidacy by knocking doors, raising money from donors and seeking endorsements from elected officials and area organizations.