Allaire and Notte ready for presidency rematch
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | March 07,2013
This year’s contest for Board of Aldermen president is shaping up to look like last year’s.
Alderman David Allaire said Wednesday he will seek another term and Alderman William Notte said he will once again challenge him. The president presides over meetings, votes to break ties, determines committee assignments and serves as an at-large member on all standing committees.
Allaire, who had held the position since 2006, said that as he entered the home stretch of his mayoral bid, he kept talking to people who said they would hate to lose him as board president.
“I was hoping people would not take that into account in whether they would vote for me for mayor or not,” he said. “It turns out, I’m not mayor.”
Notte, whose bid for the seat last year failed 7-4 on a board vote, said he was encouraged by a number of aldermen and people outside the board to put his name forward again this year. He said he believed the board would be stronger with a rotating presidency and having two or three former presidents on the floor at a given time would make the board more effective.
“If I am elected, I would not expect to serve as long as David,” he said. “I would expect to set a new precedent where, after two or three years, I would return to the floor and leave the chair open for someone.”
Notte also said he thought the president could do more outreach, using social media to help younger residents connect with city government.
“I want a board that reaches out to those 20-somethings and 30-somethings we’re worried about retaining,” he said. “That is something I would strive to do as board president.”
One outgoing alderman offered some strong criticism of Allaire’s bid. Christopher Robinson, who chose not to seek re-election this year, said Wednesday he supported Allaire in last year’s contest because Allaire promised not to run again.
Robinson said he was concerned that Notte lacked Allaire’s connections with the state as the city negotiated over the future of the downtown parking deck, but he also wanted to see a change in City Hall. Robinson said he discussed these issues with Allaire prior to last year’s organizational meeting.
“He stated ‘I promise I am not going to run again this year,’” Robinson said. “Had I even an inking he may try to run again (this) year, knowing I would not get another chance, I would have voted for William. ... I was assured there would be change.”
At the time he was interviewed Wednesday, Robinson said he did not know whether Allaire was running, but had heard he was considering it.
“I can fully understand why he would consider that — he cares so greatly about the city and feels that is a role he can be effective in,” Robinson said. “I feel, as time goes on, he will realize he does not want to violate his confidences, his integrity and his character just to maintain that position of power.”
Allaire did not deny making the promise, though he said he did not remember his exact words in the conversation with Robinson.
“At the time, frankly, I was thinking about and planning my run for mayor, and, frankly, I thought I was going to be mayor,” he said. “I changed my mind.”
He added, “My bottom line is doing what it best for my constituents. I don’t think I’m violating anything. That was a discussion I had with a fellow board member at the time, considering the circumstances of the day. Things change. Circumstances around the city change.”
Allaire also said he answers to the voters.
“They are the ones I am responsible to, to continue the discussion and holding people to account on the issue of the day, crime and drugs,” he said. “The best way to do that is to continue as board chair.”
Finally, Allaire rejected the characterization of him as maintaining a position of power, saying members on the floor have more power than the president.
Board members will decide the president’s race at their next meeting March 18.