DIXON – Campaigns for state’s attorney in Lee and Whiteside County are a study in contrasts.
Sauk Valley Media has received many letters to the editor about Lee County’s race, which is between incumbent Democrat Henry Dixon and Republican Anna Sacco-Miller. And the two have placed more newspaper advertisements and roadside billboards than their Whiteside County counterparts.
The Lee County race also is seeing more money.
The Whiteside County candidates, Democrat Trish Joyce and Republican Pat Liston, have been much quieter. They are running to succeed Gary Spencer, the state’s attorney for the past three decades, who chose not to seek re-election.
Sauk Valley Media last week held debates for the two state’s attorney’s races. The exchange between Lee County’s candidates was contentious, while Whiteside County’s debate was collegial (with both hopefuls showing respect for Spencer).
Part of the reason for the difference between the two counties might be Dixon’s style of campaigning. Dixon, a retired Army colonel, fights hard.
In the last election, Dixon criticized Republican incumbent Paul Whitcombe for going along with police officers on special raids. He referred to the windbreakers that Whitcombe and his prosecutors wore as “Batman suits.” That was a reference to Whitecombe’s sometimes tongue-in-cheek postings of Batman on his social media page.
This year, Dixon, 78, who also was state’s attorney in the 1960s, has emphasized his experience. “This is not the time for a new state’s attorney,” one of his ads cautions.
Sacco-Miller, 45, has promised to bring “fresh leadership,” arguing that Dixon isn’t tough enough on crime.
In contrast, both Joyce and Liston have said they want to avoid any negative campaigning out of respect for each other.
“I would agree it hasn’t been as contentious over here,” Liston said in comparison to the race in Lee County. “We’ve both known each other for a long time and share visions and similar backgrounds.”
“I think there’s nothing to gain from the negative campaigning,” Joyce said. “I’ve kept my focus on the positives I can bring to the office and what I’d like to accomplish.”
During the last reporting period – July through September – Dixon pulled in $20,446 for his campaign and spent $18,664, according to reports filed with the Illinois Board of Elections. Sacco-Miller raised $7,272, with expenditures of $2,953.
Dixon has received $12,500 from the Lee County Democratic Central Committee over the past few months. On Oct. 9, he got $1,000 from the Rockford-based Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council.
Sacco-Miller has received $3,000 from the Lee County Republican Central Committee since September. She also got $500 in donations from members of the Ward, Murray, Pace & Johnson law firm, which has offices in Sterling and Dixon. Her husband, Tony Miller, works there.
In Whiteside County, Joyce brought in $4,215 and spent $3,258 during the same period. Liston raised $1,475, all of it from his own funds. He spent the money on a company that makes campaign signs, among other things.
The election is Tuesday.