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Bellis makes mayoral bid official

Dave Bellis formally launched his campaign for mayor of Quincy Monday by saying he would focus on building a strong community, explore the construction of a joint city-county jail and try to restore morale within the Quincy Fire Department.

After filing his petitions to seek the Republican nomination for mayor in the Feb. 24 primary, Bellis met with a large group of supporters at the Granite Bank Gallery to kick off his campaign and spell out some of his ideas for Quincy.

The 49-year-old owner of Dave Bellis Construction served on the Adams County Board for nearly six years until he resigned this summer after moving out of his district. He now wants to challenge Democratic incumbent John Spring and try to become Quincy's first Republican mayor since C. David Nuessen left office in 1985.

"The present administration has done a respectable job, but it is time for a change," Bellis said. "Sometimes we reach a comfort level in what we are doing. I think Quincy has hit this level. 'Dormant' might be another word for it."

Bellis said he wants "to start building the foundation of a strong community" by taking over the reins as mayor.

He said he would start by implementing some small changes, such as saying the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer before each City Council meeting. But he also would like to explore some big, bold ideas, including a proposal to turn over the city's sewage treatment operation to a contractor who could then sell the city's sewage for profit.

"It would be turned into a renewable resource," he said.

One of Bellis' most ambitious proposals calls for studying a possible partnership with Adams County to build a new county jail that could also house the Quincy Police Department.

"The jail that we have is just totally unsafe for our (county) employees," he said.

"I know that there's some concerns with the Quincy Police Department being in the basement at City Hall. They've outgrown that space, and I think we can combine the two in one building. That way, we wouldn't be duplicating some of the jobs" handled by the two law enforcement agencies.

Bellis was critical of the city's handling of disciplinary action taken against three firefighters and three nonunion city employees in the past 14 months, a situation that resulted in more than $400,000 in expenses, mainly for legal fees.

"The amount of time, effort and most of all the gross amount of money spent on this issue has been quite an embarrassment -- and black eye -- to our community," Bellis said. "We need to rebuild the morale of our team of top-notch firefighters."

At a news conference this morning, Bellis said he would have handled the firefighter situation differently by having a more "open door" policy to help resolve employee-related problems earlier.

"We would have been in there right from the beginning. I think it drug out way too long," he said.

Bellis said he talked with a couple of the firefighters involved in the case. "They stressed their concern that the doors were shut and they weren't allowed to go in and talk to the mayor and work things out before it got blown up," he said. "There were six families in the city that their names were just drug through the mud for no reason. It could have been stopped way early."

Bellis said he wants to become mayor because he enjoys serving the public. In addition to being on the County Board and its Finance Committee, he served on the 911 Governing Board, helped negotiate most the county's union contracts and worked on building and insurance issues. He continues to serve on a special building committee overseeing the construction of a new Adams County Health Department facility. He also is on the Quincy Fire Department's Citizens Advisory Board.

"My interest in the well-being of our community has continued to grow through the years, and this has led me to the decision to run for mayor of Quincy," he said.

Bellis, who appeared at Monday's campaign kickoff with his wife, Carri, and their three children, spoke about several other topics:

* On Quincy's effort to secure licenses to operate hydroelectric plants at three locations on the Mississippi River, he said: "I do have some concerns with the $200 million that the city is planning on spending. I would like to see it go in a direction where maybe the city has the license and we go in partnership with a utility company to help run it. I don't think the city government has a need or any business running a utility company."

* He would "look into" the possibility of eliminating the need for residents to put 50-cent stickers on garbage bags.

* He would work with local businesses and industries "to keep the jobs we currently have and to stimulate growth for the future."

* He chastised Spring for accepting campaign contributions from sources in Chicago and challenged him "to limit all campaign contributions to be from Adams County."


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