Shea endorses Curtis

 Angela Shea, left, who was defeated in the Democratic primary mayoral race, has endorsed Chris Curtis, right, a Republican seeking the Kankakee mayor post. READ MORE

KANKAKEE — Former Kankakee Democratic Party primary mayoral candidate Angela Shea has crossed political party lines and has lent her support to Republican mayoral candidate Chris Curtis in the upcoming election.

Shea, defeated by first-term Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong in the Feb. 23 Democratic Party primary by a 1,099-780 margin, stated people and the process must come before partisan politics.

“It is clear to me that our current administration has failed to curb crime, indeed shootings among youth have increased; failed to bring development to our neighborhoods on the north and east sides of Kankakee, in fact we have seen a net loss of opportunities for these communities,” she stated.

She added that city government transparency has never been worse, “leaving residents with half-truths about crime in our community that fuels dangerous misinformation.”

Mayor Wells-Armstrong said the Shea endorsement — “full of mistruths from a ‘Democratic’ candidate with a long Republican voting record” — is not surprising.

In the Republican Party primary, Curtis defeated J.J. Hollis by a 505-104 vote.

Curtis, a 6th Ward alderman, described himself as “ecstatic” when he learned of Shea’s endorsement.

“I don’t believe this election is about Democrats, Republicans nor independents,” Curtis said. “People want a change in direction. That is the message I’m getting from people I’m talking with. The community doesn’t feel we are moving in the right direction.”

Curtis said he had been hoping to get Shea’s endorsement. He said the two share many of the same thoughts as to the direction the city should be heading.

“I’m hopeful with her endorsement the majority of her supporters will consider voting for a Republican. ... I think this may let people know it’s OK to cross over and vote for the best person and not worry about political party.”

As she has previously stated, Shea noted she had initially been a supporter of Wells-Armstrong.

“The reality is she has not shown progress in these fronts; instead, we have seen only division, consistent infighting, extreme staff turnover in the mayor’s own office indicative of her ‘style’ of leadership,” she said.

“... Kankakee can do better, it can even more forward, but it requires a leader who can work with people and focus on fighting for Kankakee instead of fighting with Kankakee,” she said

Wells-Armstrong said her opposition may try to pull voters with baseless accusations and attacks, but the facts speak for themselves.

“We have built real, durable coalitions in this city during my administration,” she said in her response to a Daily Journal inquiry. “Those coalitions have led to real, positive changes — from new public safety initiatives to economic development in every ward.

“... Kankakee voters know better. I look forward to earning their endorsement once again on April 6, and continuing to lead a movement for real change in this city we love,” Wells-Armstrong said.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.

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