NORMAL — Normal City Council member Jeff Fritzen lashed out Wednesday at what he called "reckless, irresponsible and indefensible" tactics in this spring's campaign for mayor and council.
While his 10-page statement, read aloud at a City Hall news conference, did not name mayoral challenger Marc Tiritilli, Fritzen spent much of the speech — which he called a "Town of Normal Finance Presentation" — rebutting specific claims made by Tiritilli in his campaign against incumbent Mayor Chris Koos.
Among them: whether it's normal for a town to have so much debt; what a AAA bond rating means; if tax increment financing districts are necessary for development; how the town is handling pension payments; how much the town is investing in streets; whether public-private partnerships are effective; and whether Normal is overtaxed.
Fritzen said not only that he disagreed with what was said on those subjects during the campaign — Fritzen endorsed Koos — but also that those statements used information that was false and deliberately misleading.
"This is not resentment about Normal's finances or the policies established by the council," he said. "The reckless, irresponsible and indefensible attack on Normal's strengths ... was misleading to the electorate and damaging to the town's brand. It doesn't build us up. It destroys, and, while common in state and congressional races, has no place in local government."
Tiritilli could not be reached for a response on Wednesday.
Fritzen noted neither the town staff nor Koos asked him to make the speech.
"The impetus behind today is my personal offense to what I believe was a campaign to win office without regard to the consequences," he said. "Sometimes candidates resort to presenting facts in less than complete context in order to create issues that plant seeds of doubt among the electorate."
Fritzen said he did not feel his statement was premature despite a pending recount process that still could put Tiritilli in the mayor's office. Koos was declared the winner of their race Tuesday by only 11 votes, with 97 undervotes and overvotes — ballots which were not counted because the voter appeared to have chosen neither or both candidates — recorded.
Fritzen said in his statement that it was "not an attempt to explain away the close result in the mayor's race," and in fact he thought about it before the April 4 election — though he said it was fair to conclude he believes the close race reflects dirty tactics more than residents hungry for change.
Fritzen has served on the council since 1983 except for a four-year break starting in 1999. He opposed Koos for mayor in 2005 but narrowly lost.
"As the longest-serving representative of the citizens of Normal, I believe it my duty to reassure those whose trust in their elected officials and professional staff had been diminished," he said. "Examining the facts completely, not selectively, is a step towards restoration."