MORRISON – Whiteside County Board Chairman Tony Arduini isn’t saying whether he’ll seek another term as chairman.
Recently, Sauk Valley Media submitted questionnaires to County Board candidates. One question was about their choices for chairman.
Arduini’s response: “I haven’t made my preference known yet.” In recent interviews, he has declined to say whether he would run for chairman.
Last month, the board honored Arduini, who joined the board in 1965, as the longest serving current county board member in Illinois.
Two years ago, the board – Democrats and Republicans alike – unanimously backed Arduini, D-Rock Falls, for another term as chairman.
Arduini, 91, is undoubtedly a loyal Democrat; a picture of President Barack Obama hangs behind his seat in the board’s chambers. Still, he says, he gets along well with Republicans.
In an interview last year, Arduini, who represents District 2, said the County Board is “pretty casual” when it comes to political parties.
“We don’t consider things Democrat and Republican,” said Arduini, chairman for the past 22 years.
In June, Arduini beat back a Democratic challenge to his appointment of Jerri Robinson, chairwoman of the Whiteside County Republican Party, to another term on the airport board.
Some Democrats said the airport board had too many Republicans. Arduini argued the airport board had done a good job, so he planned to reappoint its members because of their experience.
Robinson was reappointed with a 17-9 vote.
District 3 board member Bill Abbott, R-Fulton, praised Arduini.
“As a Republican, I’d naturally prefer a Republican,” he wrote in response to the questionnaire. “Based on the past several elections, the Democrats have had the majority, and I’ve felt that Tony Arduini has been fair and done a good job in a difficult position.”
Not all Republicans take the same approach.
Martin Koster, a GOP candidate in District 3, said he has “great respect” for Arduini, saying his long tenure was “admirable.”
“However, when leadership is not developed or fostered through periodic change, those groups get stagnant and die, ...” Koster wrote. “Perhaps it is time that legacy of experience be passed along to ensure continuity and a bright future for the county.”
Most candidates declined to answer the question about the next chairman, saying they wanted to wait to see who was elected in the Nov. 6 general election. District 1’s Sarah McNeill, D-Sterling, was an example.
“I don’t know who will be elected or who will choose to run for board chairman,” she wrote. “I expect I will vote for a Democrat.”
District 2 board member John Espinoza, D-Rock Falls, is loyal to Arduini. He endorsed the chairman for the “good job he has been doing.”
District 2’s Glenn Truesdell, also D-Rock Falls, wrote, “I see no reason to change.”
Joan Johnson, a District 2 Republican candidate from Tampico, had a geographic answer to the chairman question.
“Since we have no idea who will be elected or re-elected, this is rather difficult to answer,” she wrote, “but if I am given a choice, I would suggest someone who graduated from Tampico High School.”
That list would include her and incumbent Doug Wetzell, R-Deer Grove.
New terms begin in December.
Of the 27 board members, 25 incumbents are running for re-election, with 10 challengers. Bob McKanna, D-Rock Falls, and Roger Schipper, R-Morrison, are the only board members not running.