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Few voters at meet-and-greet

35 candidates signed up for Red, White and You event

DIXON – Voters had a chance to meet some of the candidates for area public offices at an event Monday night. For the most part, though, it was candidates meeting candidates.

Campaign signs were plentiful; voters were not.

The Red, White and You meet-and-greet was held at Sauk Valley Community College.

According to organizers, 35 candidates from Whiteside, Lee and Carroll counties signed up for booths at the event. Not all of them showed.

Lee County state’s attorney candidates Henry Dixon, the incumbent Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Anna Sacco-Miller, attended. Also on hand were Whiteside County state’s attorney hopefuls, Democrat Trish Joyce and Republican Pat Liston. They are vying to replace longtime incumbent Gary Spencer, who isn’t running again.

Joan Johnson, a Republican running for Whiteside County Board’s District 2, said she hadn’t signed up but attended anyway.

“I wanted to see what people had to say,” said Johnson, who is the manager of Ronald Reagan’s birthplace and museum in Tampico. “There hasn’t been anyone from the Tampico area on the board for 20 years. I would rather go and do something myself than tell others, ‘Why didn’t you do such and such?’”

Of the 65 County Board candidates in Whiteside and Lee counties, seven had signed up to attend, but some of them didn’t.

Tim Deem, a Republican running for Lee County Board’s District 4, had a table at the event. He has been regularly showing up for board meetings since he announced his candidacy last year – something few non-incumbents do.

“It’s my philosophy that if you’re going to jump in and take a position, you should have some idea about it,” he said. “Meetings should be more civil, so they [members] can concentrate on issues rather than let their emotions get the better of them.”

Lee County Board Vice Chairman John Nicholson, R-Franklin Grove, was also on hand. Nicholson, who represents District 2, had glossy fliers detailing his accomplishments and qualifications, billing him as a “unique combination of entrepreneur, historic preservationist and visionary.”

He had signs for Kasey Considine, a Democrat running in the same district. He said that at the local level, it doesn’t matter to him whether someone is a Democrat or Republican.

State Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, attended the meet-and-greet, armed with a cane. Last month, he suffered an injury after a cow head-butted him in the knee. He left the campaign trail only for a few days.

“It’s not a good time of year to take time off in my line of work,” said Morthland, who represents the 71st District.

He is running against Hillsdale Democrat Mike Smiddy.

The meet-and-greet was sponsored by University of Illinois Extension, Sauk Valley Media and Sauk Valley Community College.

Terry Feinberg of University of Illinois Extension said that during a presentation on voting rules at the event, about 50 people attended, 20 of whom were not candidates.

She said she would like to have drawn more voters. Next time, she said, her agency may hold meet-and-greets in all three counties.

The election is Nov. 6.

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