DIXON – Dixon Township will see a change in leadership.
In Tuesday’s election, local farmer Ed Fritts defeated Doug Farster for the supervisor’s position. Fritts received 1,698 votes, or 54 percent, to Farster’s 1,464 votes, or 46 percent.
“I knew it would be a close race,” Fritts said in a phone interview. “Both sides worked hard. It was a well-run race on both sides. I wanted to thank people for all of the support they gave. We needed every bit of it. I will work hard for the people while I’m supervisor.”
In Dixon Township, Farster started as supervisor in 2009. He collected a number of endorsements from local politicos, including Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon; former state Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling; and Greg Witzleb, the county’s Republican Party chairman.
Fritts, a former Lee County Board member, was the supervisor of South Dixon Township for a decade and now lives in Dixon.
In his campaign, Farster said the township was “frugal” with taxpayers’ money under his watch.
“We’re saving money and being creative,” he said in an interview. “Our roads are in excellent condition.”
For his first 2 years, Farster worked only 20 to 24 hours a week for a $56,000 salary. That’s because he worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for more than $75,000 a year. Since his retirement, he has worked full time for the township.
Some questioned the arrangement, saying that Farster should have worked full time for a job that paid $56,000 a year.
However, Farster said he remained responsive to citizens’ concerns when he worked part time.
Fritts, who cites his experience in township government, said he would work full time if he wins, but he declined to comment on Farster’s situation, saying the voters would judge.
Also in Dixon Township, Road Commissioner Roger Bowers trounced his opponent, Eric Long, with 2,060 votes, or 72 percent, to Long’s 805 votes, or 28 percent.
Bowers, 59, has 34 years in the road district. He has been the road commissioner for more than 3 years.
“I know what it takes to run this place,” he said. “We do all of our own work. I’m quite familiar with everything that goes on here. I bring a lot of experience to this job. I have a good crew working for me.”
In both Whiteside and Lee counties, more than 90 percent of township positions were uncontested Tuesday.
That’s less competition than the last township election, which was 4 years ago. Then, 77 percent of township positions in Lee County and 88 percent in Whiteside County were uncontested.
This year, 21 of 170 township offices attracted no candidates at all in Lee County. In Whiteside County, 12 positions drew no candidates, including seven of 13 assessor positions.
In Lee and Whiteside counties, no road commissioner faced as many opponents as Palmyra Township’s Jim Bushman, who had four challengers.
Derrick Storey, who received 435 votes, or 56 percent, beat Bushman, who got 199 votes, or 26 percent. The other candidates finished far behind – Scott Lawrence with 88 votes, or 11 percent; Matt Hazelwood with 26 votes, or 3 percent; and Michael Belcher with 22 votes, or 3 percent.
Bushman has been commissioner for the last dozen years in Palmyra Township, which is along state Route 2 in far western Lee County.
The Palmyra road district maintains more than 50 miles of roads, many of which are in subdivisions.
“We get to people as quickly as we can,” said Bushman in a recent interview. “If everyone was first, where would you start? I thought we did a fairly good job this winter.”
Storey promised an “immediate team-based response” to snowstorms, “so when the snow flies, the trucks are working.” He cited his 10 years of experience in road construction and maintenance and 12 years in snow and ice control.
New road official in Sterling Township
In Sterling Township, Road Commissioner Jim Lopez, who has served in that position for a dozen years, went down to defeat Dana Stutzke.
Stutzke received 893 votes, or 57 percent, to Lopez’s 670, or 43 percent.
Lopez has worked for the road district since 1969.
“We try to maintain the roads to make sure they’re safe,” he said in a recent interview. “I’ve seen it all. I’ve done it all. We started out with old equipment. I appreciate what we have now. We don’t take it for granted. We keep it maintained all the time and make sure it’s working right. We have a good crew.
Stutzke said he was running because it’s time for a change. He said his long experience in construction and as owner of Stutzke Excavating qualified him to be commissioner.
Sterling Supervisor Matt Howze, who leads the biggest township in Whiteside and Lee counties, had no opponent for re-election to a second 4-year term.