ROCK FALLS – What kind of leader should be taking the city of Rock Falls into the future?
That’s the question voters will answer on April 9 in the race for mayor. Incumbent David Blanton, 65, is being challenged by City Clerk Bill Wescott, 60.
Both are Rock Falls natives. Both have years of experience in office at City Hall.
The two even share a common pastime – fishing.
So what are the differences? Their style of leading, according to the candidates.
“Dave is someone who is, I don’t want to use the term ‘His way or the highway,’ but I think Dave likes to be the one in charge and forgets about the we and us as opposed to the I,” Wescott said. “I think that a lot of times we hear about things and actions that are going to be taken that not all of the facts have been brought forth.”
There can be conflict when votes come to the council for passage because aldermen don’t want to vote on issues without having all the information, Wescott said.
Wescott said he believes Blanton loves the city of Rock Falls and wants to see it succeed. He said the two candidates simply have different ways of leading.
Blanton argues that he is a proven leader, something he said his record shows.
“My job as mayor is to set a direction and then make sure we are flowing in the proper direction,” he said. “Sometimes everybody has ideas, got to come together and do what makes sense.”
For Wescott, being mayor has been a lifelong dream.
“When my wife [Linda] and I were first married back in 1979, and she asked me at that time is there anything else I plan on doing, to let her know about, I said, ‘Someday I want to be the mayor,” Wescott recalled.
The city clerk is a lifelong Rock Falls resident. He started the first ambulance business in the area. He also cited his civic and volunteer involvement in the community as strengths.
Blanton said he is seeking a third 4-year term because he has unfinished business.
“There’s more things that we want to get accomplished that we’ve started,” he said.
The continued development of the city’s riverfront is one such major project, the mayor said.
He said his public and private sector experience set him apart from his opponent. He pointed to his election to the American Public Power board, which represents five states, as an example of his ability to lead.
During his time as mayor, he said, he has made valuable connections in Springfield and Washington, D.C. Changing leadership midway through important projects such as riverfront development could be detrimental, the mayor said.
Wescott disagreed, saying the mayor “is only one person.”
“There are eight aldermen that make the vote on decisions that are made for the city,” he said. “I do not believe there is any project out there that is coming to the city that the city will suffer if there is a change in leadership.”
Blanton said his opponent has “done OK” as city clerk.
“There’s a big difference between being city clerk and being mayor,” he said.
The city clerk is the keeper of the records and isn’t involved in city decision-making, Blanton said. The mayor is supposed to be in charge of everything, he said.
“That’s a pretty big burden sometimes.”
Name: David Blanton
Family: Wife, Donna; son, David; daughter, Christy; two grandchildren
Education: Rock Falls High School; Ball State University
Occupation: Mayor of Rock Falls
Government experience: Served as alderman in the 1980s and early 1990s; elected mayor 2005
Name: Bill Wescott
Family: Wife, Linda; sons, Jeremy and Kelley
Education: 1970 Rock Falls High School graduate
Occupation: City clerk in Rock Falls
Government experience: City clerk for 10 years
More election info to come
Upcoming editions will take a closer look at the some of the key issues Rock Falls now faces, such as riverfront development, and how each candidate for mayor would handle them.