BY DAVE PARRO
It's always fun to watch the political maneuvering candidates do long before an election in an attempt to craft their public images and head off criticism.
Take Rick Lawrence for example. The Aurora alderman who has feuded with Mayor Tom Weisner for the past three years now says he'll run a clean and respectful mayoral campaign that focuses on the positive.
That's convenient because Lawrence has supporters who will do his dirty work for him.
Alderman Stephanie Kifowit, who also is planning to run for mayor, has also been a vocal critic of Weisner in the past. But she has made a point since starting her second term last year of distancing herself from the controversial Lawrence. While the two political contrarians certainly have their supporters, it's going to be tough for either of them to shed their reputations as dissidents.
That's especially true for Lawrence. If he honestly wants to stay positive, he can't claim to take the high road while allowing his supporters to be petty and vindictive. While he has been trying to distance himself from such negativity, it's not enough to just look the other way. He must condemn it and publicly state that some of the dialogue taking place in the community and online is destructive.
Here's an excerpt of an editorial running in Friday's Beacon News:
Lawrence has been particularly critical of the mayor, but he launched his bid with comments that didn't even directly mention his political nemesis. In fact, to his credit, he made a point of saying he will run a respectful, positive campaign.
But Lawrence can't easily get away from his rabble-rousing past. He will be judged not only on how he conducts his campaign, but also on how he acts as alderman. That has often included feuding with the mayor and other aldermen. And unfortunately, some of his supporters have encouraged a dialogue in the community that has been divisive and sometimes cruel.
Both Lawrence and Kifowit need to look no further than the City Council to find an example of a mayoral campaign gone wrong. When Alderman Richard Irvin ran against Weisner in 2005, Irvin's campaign was hijacked by overzealous supporters. It likely played a role in his loss.
Many of those same people are now rooting for Lawrence. If he's serious about being Aurora's next mayor, the alderman has to convince voters that his campaign isn't just a continuation of his feud with the mayor.