MORRISON – Whiteside County Board Chairman Tony Arduini is stepping down after more than two decades at the helm.
Arduini, 91, said Wednesday that he decided some time ago that he wouldn't stay as chairman. He will remain on the County Board, where he has served since 1965.
The board will hold an organizational meeting Monday, when members will vote on a new chairman.
Arduini, a Rock Falls Democrat, said he wouldn't endorse a successor. The Democratic caucus was to hold a private meeting Wednesday night to decide on a nominee.
In October, when Sauk Valley Media asked Arduini whether he would run for chairman again, he declined to answer. "I haven't made my preference known yet," he said.
His decision took some members by surprise.
Sue Britt, D-Morrison, who said she hadn't known until a reporter called her, said that she had her preferences for chairman but that it would be "political suicide" to identify them before the caucus.
She said she wasn't interested in the position.
Asked whether he would run for chairman, Jim Duffy, D-Sterling, said, "I'm not saying anything to the press about that. It would be premature."
Vice Chairman Bill McGinn, D-Sterling, said he wouldn't run for the top job.
"I don't have the time for it. I'm still working part time. I have different positions at the county and township levels," he said.
The Democrats have held the majority throughout Arduini's chairmanship. After the Nov. 6 election, the Democrats have an 18-9 majority.
In Lee County, the board, with a 20-4 Republican majority, is poised to pick a Democrat, Rick Ketchum of Amboy, for chairman. No one else has announced for the position.
In September, Arduini was honored as the state's longest-tenured county board member, receiving a proclamation from Gov. Pat Quinn.
Last year, the World War II veteran suffered health problems, causing him to miss a few meetings.
He said he waited until after the election to make his announcement on stepping down.
"I wanted to make sure I was elected," he said.
The Whiteside County Board will hold is organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Whiteside County Courthouse, 400 N. Cherry St. in Morrison.
The Lee County Board will hold its organizational meeting at 9 a.m. Monday at the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St. in Dixon.
The boards will elect their chairmen and vice chairmen.
Call Whiteside County at 815-772-5100 and Lee County at 815-288-5676 for more information.