BLOOMINGTON — A controversial former radio talk show host running for Bloomington mayor was put on the hot seat Wednesday over why he deleted some comments on his campaign's Facebook page.

At a mayoral candidate forum Wednesday night hosted by the McLean County Democratic Party, Bloomington resident Sara Keene questioned why comments were being deleted from the Ian Bayne for Mayor page.

Comments were deleted because they contained "vulgarities," said Bayne, adding some of the names he was called in them were "pretty offensive."

"I did not call you any names. I asked a simple question (in a Facebook post)," Keene replied. 

"I can answer your question if you'd be quiet," said Bayne, drawing loud boos from several of the estimated 70 people in the audience. "Let me know when you're done. How much time does she have? I have two people who monitor it (the Facebook page) to make sure people like a 9-year-old don't (read) vulgarities."

The event's format called for each candidate to speak for five minutes and then for each candidate to answer two questions asked by members from the audience. There were no other heated exchanges between candidates or members of the audience.

Also running in the Feb. 28 primary are one-term incumbent Tari Renner, Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower, Ward 8 Alderman Diana Hauman and retired Bloomington firefighter Robert Fike.

The forum at the Laborers' International Union of North America union hall, was the first time all five candidates have been in a setting together to talk about their candidacies.

When asked what she would like to accomplish in her first six months if elected, Hauman said she wants to bring the council together to work as a unified group and improve the city's relationship with the town of Normal.

She suggested challenging the town of Normal to a tug-of-war contest across Division Street.

"Symbolic? Yes, but it would give us a fresh start," she said. "We need to rename Division Street, also."

Fike said he would push for the city to sell the financially underperforming U.S. Cellular Coliseum and find a use for the never-used Fire Station No. 5 on Six Points Road on the city's west side.

"I'd like to see, across the board, department cuts because government has gotten too large," said Fike. "I'd love to have a water park and a new library ... but you've got to take care of the infrastructure."

That prompted a woman to ask, "Who comes to a city and says, 'What beautiful pipes they have?' ... People come to a city to live, to have quality of life."

Lower said public safety, solid waste and infrastructure are paramount.

"I think the city is trying to do way too much with base revenue streams," said Lower. "I think we need to pull back ... and do the basics."

Lower said there is a misconception that members of the council are "enemies," adding the he considers Hauman and Renner friends even though he often disagrees with them on policy.

"At the core we want to live amongst each other and get along," he said. 

Bayne said he would lower the sales tax from 8.75 percent to 6.5 percent, cut property taxes and fix the streets. He said that could be done if the city cuts its budget back to 2013 spending levels.

Renner said that during his four years as mayor the city has improved its transparency, grown the local economy by adding several new businesses and the Route 66 visitor center, and began fixing long-neglected city infrastructure and streets.

Renner also noted that during his tenure the city has maintained balance budgets while "leading the state in funding our police and fire pensions."

The McLean County Republican Party will host the candidates at its monthly breakfast meeting at 7 a.m. Monday at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 10 Brickyard Drive.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle



Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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