Mayoral candidates for the City of Park Ridge, Larry Ryles and Mayor David Schmidt, met for a debate hosted by the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce at the Park Ridge Country Club on Wednesday.
Ryles and Schmidt traded barbs on a number of issues including the city’s services, financial well-being and economic growth.
“Vacant lots and storefronts continue throughout the city,” Ryles said. “Rather than exert leadership and tell the virtues of Park Ridge, [Schmidt] has used his communications to paint a picture of doom and gloom.”
Ryles said, where Schmidt lacks an economic development plan, he is offering one.
“I’ve got an economic development plan that’s stay home, bring home and sell home,” Ryles said. “I intend to be the leader for economic development in the City of Park Ridge.”
Schmidt said, over the last three years, the city generated three straight surpluses in the general fund, which have helped bring the budget, or the general fund balance back up to a much more stable $4.7 million dollars.
“Sales tax revenues, which is a good barometer of how the city’s economy is doing, have been very strong over the past four years,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said sales tax revenues four years ago were $4.5 million dollars per year.
“This year they’re expected to be $5.5 million dollars; that’s an increase of a million dollars,” Schmidt said. “That’s good; that’s strong development. Sure, we’d like to have more retail sales revenues.”
Ryles and Schmidt agreed that shopping locally would benefit the community and ease the dependency on property tax revenues.
Susan Sweeney, former candidate to represent the 55th Illinois House District and a Park Ridge resident, attended the debate on Wednesday. Sweeney said she wanted to review a recording of the entire debate to digest what each candidate said.
“Ryles had plenty of style, but Schmidt delivered on substance, defending his record,” Sweeney stated in an email to Patch.
Ryles and Schmidt will meet for their last debate currently scheduled at city hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The event is being hosted by the League of Women Voters and is open to the public.
Related: Video from the debate between Ryles and Schmidt hosted by the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce on March 13.