ROCK FALLS – It's showtime.
The man who will serve as the next mayor of Rock Falls will be decided today. Voters will choose between incumbent Mayor David Blanton and his opponent, City Clerk Bill Wescott.
It will be business as usual for both men today. Blanton said he has meetings in Morrison for the Whiteside County Enterprise Zone board, of which he is chairman. Wescott said he will be at his desk at City Hall.
There's many more equally important races and issues to be decided today: Voters will get to speak their piece on a 1 percentage-point sales tax hike for the schools, and on whether they want the county to negotiate lower electricty rates on their behalf. Local school boards and councils likely will be seeing some turnover, as will local townships.
But the cordial battle in Rock Falls between two men who have worked side by side for years is drawing a lot of attention, and stirring emotions.
Blanton said his proudest accomplishment as mayor has been uniting City Hall employees, and uniting the community of Rock Falls.
"I think we've come a long way," he said Monday. "Most all feel things have went very well. They like the idea of a balanced budget, like the idea of paying for what we do. All seem pretty satisfied. The ones that don't, [I] explain things, then they understand."
Wescott said he and members of his campaign team have knocked on doors throughout the city, and found that the number one issue for Rock Falls residents is communication.
"Whether it's talking about the roads, developing a plan for business downtown, [what] I've heard repeatedly: 'We can't be at all the committee meetings; we don't have a computer,'" Wescott said.
The mayor and aldermen should get residents' input before decisions are made, he said.
Blanton said residents he has spoken with consider taxes to be an important issue. He pointed to the city's balanced budget and said his administration has been able to pay for what it has done.
He also said the city is moving forward on many fronts, adding that the opening of a new Thai restaurant downtown is "going to be a big thing for our community."
"Our industries are expanding ... [we] see more business things happening," he said. "As I said before, [there is] no instant gratification in economic development."
The mayor said he has spent years working on development and getting the respect of people.
His final message to voters? "I would like their support. I think I've earned it."
Wescott encourages everyone to vote, noting traditional voter apathy for municipal elections.
"I hope we have good voter turnout," he said. "It shows that people do care."
It's Election Day, and polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To verify your registration or to find your polling place, call the Lee County Clerk's Office at 815-288-3309 or the Whiteside County Clerk's Office at 815-772-5189.