CUDAHY — Two incumbents and two challengers who have frequently clashed over the course of city government will compete for a pair of City Council seats in the April 12 election.
Mayor John Robertson and a longtime political ally, Planning Commission member Joseph R. Fregeau, are sharing campaign expenses and planning to ring doorbells together as they canvass various neighborhoods.
Similarly, incumbent Councilman Gabriel (Gabe) Zippi and former Mayor Faye Dunlap have posted their campaign signs together along the street that runs past City Hall, and Dunlap has acknowledged that she and Zippi "support" each other's candidacies.
Candidates Pair Off
When Robertson and Dunlap served on the council together in 1981, they frequently squared off over the decision to allow a card parlor in Cudahy, which voters subsequently approved. Zippi joined Dunlap's camp when he was elected in 1984, and Fregeau ran unsuccessfully on a slate with Robertson that same year.
Robertson and Fregeau are still bitter about what they see as favoritism on the part of their two opponents in dealing with the casino question.
"If you're going to have gambling, you have a set of rules that apply to everybody," Robertson said. "Gabe, Lyn (former Councilman Lynwood Evans), Faye, they didn't obey the rules; they changed them. . . . "
Fregeau said: "They got so involved with gambling (as an issue) that the city became secondary."
Both Dunlap and Zippi said the card parlor is not an issue in this year's campaign.
Robertson, 48, and Dunlap, 60, both express concern about zoning densities in this square-mile city of 20,000. Robertson supported an ordinance passed last year that reduced the number of housing units allowed per acre from 12 to 10. Citing an inadequate water supply and other problems, Robertson said during a recent interview: "We just can't pack 'em in."
Dunlap, a property manager, criticizes the downzoning ordinance as having "reduced the value of all property, according to property owners in the past year, causing developers and business to look elsewhere for property."
Fregeau, 69, and Zippi, 70, both retired, offered no opinions on the zoning ordinance.
The management of city money is a point of contention for three of the four candidates. Dunlap put "the reckless spending" of city funds at the top of her list of issues. She didn't fault any current city programs as wasteful. But she said that "little things," such as a roast beef dinner offered to 100 guests at the recent ground breaking for the city's new swimming pool, add up. Dunlap said the meal cost the city $2,000.
In turn, Robertson and Fregeau criticized Dunlap for alleged financial mismanagement during her term as mayor from 1985 to 1986. The two said Dunlap and her allies had spent too much money hiring a new city manager and buying out the remainder of the old city manager's contract.
On the question of where the city's revenues should come from, Dunlap suggested that the city work to increase its sales and gasoline taxes. Robertson stressed the need to seek more funds from the state.
Social Services Cited
Robertson, an engineering consultant, said the council's progress in offering new social services during the past two years is a "tremendous" record for him to run on. He mentioned new initiatives such as a senior citizens' housing project, a job training partnership with six other cities and the Cudahy Social Services Agency, a private venture that received some city financial assistance.
He also claimed credit for shaping the development of a shopping center being built at Florence and Atlantic avenues. For the future, Robertson said he would like to expand on the social services the city offers, especially in the area of drug abuse prevention.
Hopes to Instill Pride
Fregeau, who has served on the Planning Commission for more than six years, shares Robertson's stated commitment to social services. In addition, he said he would like to end the squabbles surrounding city government and "see if I can't do something to put more pride in this city."
Dunlap said her greatest asset in the campaign is her experience, both in city government, where she has served two terms as mayor, and as a volunteer for 36 years on school boards and civic associations. Besides using city funds to encourage business expansion, Dunlap said she would do more than the current administration to clean up graffiti.
Zippi, a retired city code enforcement officer who has served one term on the council, said he is not focusing on any particular issue, although he would like to see some expansion of services offered to older people. "I just want to do what the citizens want to do," said Zippi. "They hired me with their votes, they're my boss."