DIXON – Mark Ranken calls himself a workaholic. He’ll get no argument from the Lee County Republican Central Committee.
Ranken’s efforts for the county’s GOP have won him recognition as the organization’s Republican of the Year. Ranken was given a plaque at Friday’s Reagan Day Dinner at the Dixon Elks Lodge.
A lifelong Dixon resident, Ranken is employed by the Illinois Department of Transportation. When his work there is done, he is the guy whom party leadership can always count on, Chairman Greg Witzleb says.
“Mark is an incredibly hard worker and very conscientious,” Witzleb said.
As an example, Witzleb recounted last year’s political signage mess that loomed the day after the election.
“We always want to collect all the signs as soon as possible, and Jim [Wentling] and I had to go to Springfield the day after the elections,” Witzleb said. “We asked Mark to just check a few places, and he ended up picking up every Republican sign he saw. His pickup truck was full of them.”
Wentling, the county’s GOP vice chairman, said that while many people donate their time to the party, Ranken distinguished himself as the top Republican over the past year.
“This guy really stands out,” Wentling said. “We call him and say we need help at headquarters, putting up political signs, working at fundraisers. Whatever it is, you can always count on him.”
And if you enjoyed the food at Octoberfest, grilling those juicy brats is one of Ranken’s specialties, Wentling said.
Ranken, 51, doesn’t come from a politically active family, but he says he has always been a staunch Republican. About 10 years ago, he found himself wondering what he could do to help the cause.
“I started going to fundraisers and became a Lee County Precinct Committee member for the Nachusa District,” Ranken said.
While his wife, Diane, doesn’t share his passion for county politics, she has no problem with all the time he puts in at GOP headquarters, Ranken says.
“She doesn’t mind,” he said, “because she knows how much I enjoy being involved in groups where I’m helping people.”
When he isn’t working, Ranken enjoys hunting. He says he also likes to follow the latest news across the political landscape.
“This is a big voting year for Republicans, and it will be exciting to see how it all turns out,” he said.
Asked whether a run for political office might be in his future, Ranken had a quick answer.
“I don’t see myself running for anything,” he said. “I’m a good helper, but I don’t think I’m cut out for being a delegator.”