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Fritzen Troubled By Damaging Campaign Strategy

Mike Miletich

The longest serving Town of Normal council member says he was deeply troubled by the recent municipal election.

During a news conference at Uptown Station Wednesday morning, Councilman Jeff Fritzen said he believes Normal mayoral candidate Marc Tiritilli's campaign  was damaging to what many had worked on within the community.

Fritzen said candidates sometimes resort to presenting facts in less than complete context in order to create issues that plant seeds of doubt among voters.

"The reckless, irresponsible and indefensible attack on many of Normal's strengths during the just completed mayoral and council campaign was misleading to the electorate and damaging to the Town's brand," said Fritzen. "It doesn't build us up. It destroys."

Fritzen said even though the attacks are common in state and Congressional races, they have no place in local government. Fritzen also said he hopes those tactics won't be used in future elections.

Fritzen, who ran against Koos in 2005 and lost by a slim margin,  said that he wanted to begin the repair the damage.

"Oft repeated statements taking issues with Town debt and taxes, claims that streets are neglected and policies are damaging our public school system, among others, can be valid points of contention, if the arguments have a foundation. However, claiming the sky is falling without substantiation is a dangerous tactic," said Fritzen.

Fritzen addressed misconceptions of the town's debt, TIFs, pensions, and streets among other areas.

Fritzen pointed out that this was not an attempt to explain away the close result in the mayoral race. He said neither the Town administration nor Mayor Koos requested his assistance in addressing the campaign's aftermath.

Marc Tiritilli responded to Fritzen's statement through an email to WGLT Thursday night.

Tiritilli with Koos
Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT
File photo of Mayor Chris Koos, left, with Marc Tiritilli during a WGLT candidate forum.

Tiritilli said he doesn't understand why Fritzen chose to criticize his campaign after the election instead of during the campaign itself. 

"His characterization of my campaign is simply wrong, and his statements do not square with the reality of this election," said Tiritilli. "Everything I addressed in my campaign is substantiated, with references,  and all the numbers I cite come from the town's own financial documentation. Neither the numbers nor my analysis were ever denied, questioned, or refuted by anyone."

Tiritilli said he proposed a solution for every concern he noted during the campaign.

The Bloomington High School science teacher also said he never criticized the town's staff. Tiritilli added that he had praised them for the work they do on multiple occasions. 

"I have the utmost respect for the town's staff. They do an incredible job. They really do," said Tiritilli. 

Tiritilli said all of his criticisms were about policy decisions made by the mayor and council. 

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Editors note: This story was updated on April 21 with Marc Tiritilli's response to Councilman Fritzen's statement.

Mike joined GLT's staff as a student reporter in February of 2016 having worked previously as a reporter at Illinois State University's student radio station, 103.3 WZND. He acted as a director for the WZND newsroom for two years. Mike was also seen as a reporter, producer, and anchor at TV-10 News. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in May of 2017 before starting his post-graduate career with the Public Affairs Reporting Masters Program at University of Illinois Springfield.