JOLIET – The Joliet mayoral race heated up fast Friday with accusations of disrespect and lies.
At a press conference to endorse Mayor Tom Giarrante, former Councilman Warren Dorris said the mayor has tried to govern with a City Council that shows disrespect to him and his office.
"I've seen him (Giarrante) abused by the council," said Dorris, who ran against Giarrante in the last election but now endorses him. "I've seen the office of mayor disrespected by the council."
Herbert Brooks, the Democratic caucus leader on the Will County Board, joined in with a reference to a comment made at a council meeting. Brooks said he was watching a council meeting on TV when he heard Councilman Bob O'Dekirk say to Giarrante, "Mr. Mayor, you're talking out of both sides of your mouth again."
"I just thought it was terrible," Brooks said later. "I don't care who the mayor is. I don't think he or she should be treated like that."
O'Dekirk, running for mayor in the April 7 election, said when contacted later that he does not remember the comment. "But," O'Dekirk added, "there's no question that Mayor Giarrante has lied repeatedly."
"I think the mayor shows disrespect to the council when he lies to us," O'Dekirk said. "He lies to get votes, and he lies about pending projects."
O'Dekirk referred to a pending $17 million deficit that was an issue in the last mayoral campaign in 2011. The looming deficit became an argument for passing tax and fee increases, which O'Dekirk did not support.
By the time the City Council received a proposed budget at the end of the year, there was virtually no deficit. City officials said the deficit was eliminated by a series of budget cuts and revenue increases, including the tax and fee hikes.
The question of the $17 million deficit will likely be an issue in the campaign.
So will an immigrant detention center project that never materialized, but was controversial while it was in the works. O'Dekirk said Giarrante did not provide full information about the project to the council.
Giarrante at the press conference thanked Dorris and Brooks for their endorsements.
"I really need and want your support," Giarrante said. "I think it's going to get nasty. But we're going to try to stay positive."