Familiar names to square off for La Grange mayor

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Field of 22 file to run for city council

By Kenny Colston

One out of a trio of familiar names hopes to become the next mayor of La Grange.

Former mayor Elsie Carter, city councilman Joe Davenport and resident Brian Oerther all have filed to run for mayor this year. Current Mayor Bill Lammlein, who’s keeping a promise to serve only one term as mayor, is vacating the seat.

And while he’s leaving the mayor’s office, Lammlein doesn’t plan to stay away from city council meetings after his term ends, because he’s one of 22 who filed to run for La Grange city council.

A three-person primary isn’t unusual for a mayor’s race. Carter, Oerther and Lammlein all ran for mayor in 2010. The top two vote getters in the mayoral primary in May will face off in a general election in November.

But a 22-person race to fill eight city council seats is unusual, records show. The large field will enact a primary election to narrow the field to 16 candidates and the top eight vote getters in the general election will be the new city council.

The last time there was a primary for city council was 2004, when 17 candidates ran. Information was not readily available for when the last time, if ever, more than 20 candidates filed for city council.

All current members of the city council, except Davenport, filed to run for re-election to the council.

After considering running for city council instead, Carter said she decided to run for mayor again because she can make the biggest difference in that office. Carter was mayor from 2003 to 2010, when Lammlein defeated her.

“The council makes the laws, but the mayor does the day to day interaction with people and that’s what I enjoy the most,” she said.

In an interview, Carter said her campaign platform revolves around having a balanced budget again, reducing taxes, “taking care of Oldham Reserve” and helping La Grange’s children. Carter also said she will advocate to repeal the city’s new occupational tax.

“We’ll get that removed,” Carter said. “There are other ways to make up the deficit.”

Davenport said he had no problem with Carter or anyone else getting into the race for mayor.

“I welcome all opponents, I don’t have any problems with people filing to run against me,’” he said. “I stand on my 20-plus year record as a city council member.”

Davenport said he wouldn’t make a comment about the occupational tax and whether it should stay or not, because no reports on how much money the tax has made for the city are available yet. But Davenport did vote for the tax as a city council member.

“We have not got a quarterly report yet, so I wouldn’t want to make a decision on that until I see a report,” he said. “I don’t know how much revenue we’ll get out of it.”

In a previous interview, Davenport said he was running for mayor to continue the successful policies of Lammlein and to help keep the city on the right track.

“Bill has done a fantastic job and I want to keep it up,” Davenport said. “I feel like I can beat any potential opponents due to name recognition and my work.”

Oerther was unable to be reached for comment about his candidacy. He previously ran for mayor in 2010, as well as for U.S. Congress in 2012.

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