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Dispute shakes historical group: Society's leader called 'sore loser'

Pat Gorman (left) and Bob Gibler.
Pat Gorman (left) and Bob Gibler.

DIXON – Bob Gibler, the longtime president of the Lee County Historical Society, came up short in his re-election bid last month, but he is not accepting the result.

On Nov. 13, Pat Gorman, president of the Lee County Genealogical Society, ran against Gibler for the position, prevailing 9-8.

Gibler, a Lee County Board member and former Dixon mayoral candidate, didn’t protest the outcome at the meeting, but later contended that Gorman wasn’t a society member, so the election was not legitimate.

The historical society’s board has set another election for Tuesday.

In a mass email Friday, Gorman called Gibler a “sore loser,” pleading for the community’s support.

“I have attempted to stop him with a letter from my lawyer,” Gorman said, adding that he didn’t have much hope of winning the day.

Gorman said that as president, he would promote sharing of resources between the two historical groups, which he contends would make both better.

Gibler said Gorman’s candidacy “blindsided” him and other members. He said those voting for Gorman were members who didn’t normally show up at meetings.

“We usually have the same people who come all the time. If I had known something was in the wind, I would have made a few phone calls [to get support],” Gibler said.

Gorman paid his $25 in dues to the treasurer earlier in the day Nov. 13, but he didn’t fill out a membership application, which Gibler said was required.

Two days after the election, Gorman showed up at the historical society’s building on Madison Avenue. Gibler informed Gorman that he wasn’t a member and thus wasn’t president. Gibler put Gorman’s $25 on a table; Gorman says Gibler threw it. Gorman didn’t take it.

Gibler later sent a $25 check to Gorman, who said he wouldn’t cash it.

Gibler said the historical society didn’t properly close nominations during the election, a procedural violation. As such, he convinced his board to hold another election.

“We will do it the right way,” he said.

Gibler wouldn’t say whether he would put his name forward for president at Tuesday’s meeting, but he said the group would bar Gorman from running because he was not a member at the time of the previous meeting. Gorman has not turned in a membership application, but said he has filled it out.

Gorman rejects the charge that he and others “blindsided” Gibler and his supporters.

“When you take nominations from the floor, you open yourself up to a surprise candidate,” he said. “That’s the way it works. I’ve had three lawyers look at the bylaws, and it’s pretty black and white. If you pay your dues, you are a member.”

Gibler said he doesn’t covet the president’s position.

“I’ve been wanting to get out of there for years, but we have needed officers,” he said.

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