DIXON – It was 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, it was 39 degrees, and it was cloudy.
But that didn’t stop more than 120 people from showing up for a rally pushing for passage of a 1 percent sales tax for a sports and activities center.
On Tuesday, Lee County voters will decide on the 1 percent sales tax, which will pay for school facilities. Each county school district will get revenue from the tax based on enrollment.
The rally lasted less than 15 minutes next to the Reagan statue on Dixon’s riverfront.
Police Chief Danny Langloss, the spokesman for We Are Dixon, the committee promoting the tax, told the crowd he’s optimistic about the referendum.
“Nine out of 10 people we talk to are for this,” Langloss said. “The challenge is getting to people, because they’re so busy.”
Behind Langloss were 17 boys and girls holding signs that read, “It’s time – vote yes – 1 percent referendum – sports and activities center.”
Langloss said the community has been talking about building such a center for two decades. Now is the time to get it done, he said.
“We keep saying there’s nothing to do for kids,” he said. “This is an amazing opportunity ... If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity, we’ll be talking about this 20 years from now.
“We’re incredibly optimistic. Tuesday will be our day,” he said.
Dixon plans to spend its portion of sales tax proceeds on the center; other school districts say they’ll devote their money to fixing existing school buildings.
The rally attracted at least one opponent, Ashton resident Ulysses Arn. He carried a sign that quoted Ronald Reagan, “I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers, Go ahead – make by day.”
The rally organizers put seven pro-tax signs along the base of the Reagan statue. As president, Reagan was an anti-tax crusader, drastically cutting taxes but raising them at times to compromise with Democrats.
Even in a presidential election year, the pro-tax effort in Dixon has attracted much attention. We Are Dixon bought 500 yard signs – 400 of which are posted around town, not including the larger ones, Langloss said. The group also has its message on two billboards.
If voters reject the tax Tuesday, We Are Dixon plans to try again in the April election.
Video: Watch the full debate between proponents and opponents of the Lee County 1 percent sales tax that took place at Sauk Valley Media's Sterling office on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 moderated by the SVM editorial board.