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Ready or not, here comes 2013 election

You plan to vote April 9?

Nah, didn’t think so.

Those who do cast a ballot in this hyper-local election will be a distinct minority.

Even most registered voters will pass on this one.

But your newspaper won’t.

Our coverage of the campaign and candidates officially begins today on Page 1.

That’s what newspapers do as part of their responsibility to our democracy.

So, we would appreciate it if you did your part, too.

OK, SO NOT MUCH of interest will be on most ballots.

That’s always the case with municipal and township elections.

But with hotly contested races for mayor in Rock Falls and Morrison, Whiteside County could eclipse its 2011 voter turnout of 7.8 percent.

Without a city election in Dixon, turnout promises to fall significantly from the 27.8 percent of 2 years ago.

Electrical aggregation just isn’t much of a draw.

Especially the third time around.

WITH ONLY TWO contested races for city council on the 2011 ballot, Rock Falls had a voter turnout of 9.9 percent.

That will be much higher this year, with City Clerk Bill Wescott challenging two-term Mayor David Blanton.

And three candidates are running to succeed Wescott as clerk.

Reporter Kiran Sood profiles the candidates for mayor today as the kickoff in our series of campaign articles leading up to the election

Over the next 2 weeks, we will examine contested races for mayor in Morrison (four candidates), Prophetstown (2), Amboy (3), Polo (2) and Mount Carroll (2), in addition to other races in those communities.

Assorted contests for school board, city council, and park board also are on the schedule, in addition to some township races and various ballot questions – including sales taxes for schools in Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties, and the aforementioned electrical aggregation issue in various taxing districts.

Now that we look at it, maybe there is enough on that ballot to get you to consider voting.

Maybe.

JUST DON’T GET US started on townships.

Did you see reporter David Giuliani’s report in Wednesday’s editions about Morgan County, west of Springfield?

Morgan is one of 17 Illinois counties (among 102) that have no township governments. Although Morgan’s population is about the same as Lee County’s, the difference in local bureaucracy is stunning.

Lee County, with 22 townships, has 199 elected officials at the county and township levels.

Morgan County, with no townships, has 29 elected county officials.

Townships have three legally established functions, and nobody pays much attention to two (poor relief and property assessment).

Road maintenance is the only township duty most people care about.

Lee County handles that with 22 township road commissioners with their separate staffs and equipment.

Morgan County does it at the county level with 10 road districts to ensure the outlying regions get attention in matters of plowing and patching.

Welcome to Illinois – 19th century style.

SINCE YOU DID mention township government ...

A ballot survey by reporter Giuliani has found that more than 90 percent of township offices on the April 9 ballot have no contests.

In fact, about 12 percent of the township offices on the Lee County ballot have no candidates.

How important is that property assessment role of townships?

Giuliani found that of 13 assessor positions on the ballot in Whiteside County, seven have nobody running for the office.

Somebody, please, put the township form of government out of our misery.

Who has the authority to reform that system statewide?

The Illinois General Assembly.

Never mind.

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