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Larry Lough

Term limits? Voters impose them at will

You did vote! Knew you would.

Your community was counting on you.

Voter turnout on Tuesday “swelled” to 30 percent in Lee County, 21 percent in Whiteside County.

Still miserable, but better than the last consolidated election in 2011.

But then, that election didn’t have township highway commissioners on the ballot.

Or sales tax referendums.

Now we know what matters to voters.

DESPITE THE LOUSY participation by voters, this election had many interesting story lines.

Whether they are important is for you to decide.

We thought these five were worth noting.


In a meeting with this newspaper’s editorial board in July 2011, Rock Falls Mayor David Blanton threatened to walk out.

We had invited him to sit down with us, as we often do with public officials so we can get to know them better and to discuss issues that we, and they, think are important.

But Blanton became immediately defensive when we began to ask him questions.

This editor asked the first, which involved what the mayor thought Rock Falls’ “identity” was.

The editor’s Sunday column the next week recounted the exchange like this:

“Every city has an identity,” [Blanton] said before his answer took a strange turn.

He began defending Rock Falls’ position in regard to consolidation, explained how the two cities’ fire departments shared a top administrator, and boasted of the several mutual aid agreements his city had with other governments.

The more he talked, the more annoyed he became.

When [a] reporter pressed him on savings that might be realized through consolidation, his answered was punctuated with, “Why can’t you get that through your head?”

At one point, he threatened to leave “if this is the way it’s going to be.”

We explained that we were merely looking for specifics, and that it was hard to get information when so many of his answers came back in the form of questions to the editorial board.

We moved to a different topic to de-escalate his frustration, and the conversation became more cordial.

He later apologized, but explained that he was tired of people accusing Rock Falls of being uncooperative – of being the “bad guy” – on matters of consolidating services.

We suspect the mayor had many similar exchanges with local citizens over the past 8 years.

And we suspect that’s why his opponent, City Clerk Bill Wescott, got more than 75 percent of the vote for mayor.


Whiteside County voters said “no” for a third time to a 1 percent sales tax for local schools.

Lee County voters said “no” for the second time in 5 months – only this time it was louder: 73 percent rejected it vs. 59 percent in November.

Ogle County voters also said “no” on Tuesday.

“I think the county has spoken,” Oregon Schools Superintendent Tom Mahoney said after the measure had won the support of only 35 percent of voters. “That’s not the avenue they want us to go down.”

Dixon School Board member John Jacobs, who won re-election, acknowledged the tax had suffered a decisive defeat in Lee County.

“It’s done,” he told reporter Derek Barichello. “I think the people have spoken.”

But Dan Arickx, superintendent of Rock Falls Elementary School District, was absolutely Churchillian in his “never give in” response after the tax increase was supported by not quite 46 percent of Whiteside County voters.

“I don’t think the education has gotten out there yet,” Arickx said to reporter Kayla Heimerman. “We’re technically getting closer, though.”

In other words, people will start to believe the message if we just deliver it louder.

“Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of [honor] and good sense,” Churchill said in 1941. “Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

When it comes to school funding, whom do we think the “enemy” is?


Really, what was that all about?

Shall (your local government) have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?

A couple of years ago, voters were as likely to reject that ballot question as they were to approve it.

Unincorporated Lee County once voted “no.” Dixon voters had turned it down twice.

Both of those entities approved aggregation on Tuesday – along with the 12 other counties, villages and townships in the Sauk Valley that had the question on the ballot.

That means aggregation has a 22-0 record in Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties over the past two elections.

So, explain again why anyone ever did (and still does) oppose it?

Maybe there is something to never giving in.


Don’t get into politics if you can’t stand rejection.

While most incumbents get re-elected, some don’t. And some are easier to explain than others.

We don’t need legislated term limits when voters can exercise that option at their discretion.

Want proof? Just ask ...

Mayors of Rock Falls and Amboy.

Village presidents in Ashton, Franklin Grove and Mount Morris.

Dixon Park Board president and Dixon Township supervisor.

School trustees for Dixon and Sauk Valley Community College.

Highway commissioners in Palmyra Township (Lee) and Sterling Township (Whiteside).

Being an elected official has its rewards – and its disappointments.

In case no one has said it ...

Thank you, gentlemen, for your many years of service.


If this editor ever runs for public office in the Sauk Valley, he knows what he’ll do first: Change his name to Arduini.

The source of that electoral magic seems to be Tony Arduini, the godfather of Whiteside County politics.

He was chairman of the County Board for 47 years before he stepped down last year.

This year, the name Arduini appeared on ballots in Lee and Whiteside counties.

Josh Arduini was a candidate for Dixon School Board; Eric Arduini campaigned for city clerk in Rock Falls.

Both won: Eric by winning more than half of the vote in a three-way race, and Josh by being third-highest voter-getter among six people who campaigned for four seats on the school board.

The name alone probably didn’t win the election for them.

But it didn’t hurt.

Term limits? Voters impose them at will shaw-push-component-1