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Election 2014 analysis: Simonton sees success all over Lee County

In Ogle, VanVickle finds strength on east side

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:10 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Helen Pate, 17, of Dixon starts the voting process Tuesday afternoon at Bethel Evangelical Congregational Church in Dixon. A new law in Illinois allowed citizens such as Pate to vote in the primary at age 17, as long as they will be 18 by the general election Nov. 4.

DIXON – Lee County Sheriff-elect John Simonton drew a lot of support from Dixon police officers and members of the offices of state’s attorney and public defender.

It turns out the majority of voters were in Simonton’s corner as well – in places all over the county. Overall, he got 57 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary election to Sheriff John Varga’s 43 percent.

Varga, who won a few precincts, had his best performance in Harmon, where he lives, getting 86 percent. He also did well in Amboy, where his children go to school.

Many Varga supporters protested the fact that the Dixon Police Department’s brass lined up behind Simonton, a Dixon police officer and retired police commander who receives a $110,000-a-year state pension. They warned voters not to let the Dixon police control the Sheriff’s Department.

Despite that argument, the election results showed no Dixon vs. rest-of-county trend.

In the Dixon area’s most populous precincts, Simonton, 53, won handily. Varga, 47, prevailed or tied in six of the Dixon area’s 20 precincts, all of which are less populated.

In Ogle County, Brian VanVickle, a Rochelle police officer, beat incumbent Michael Harn, 36 percent to 35 percent, in the Republican primary. Joe Drought, Rock Valley College’s police chief, followed with 29 percent.

VanVickle was strong in Rochelle, Ogle County’s biggest town. He won eight of the 11 precincts in Rochelle-based Flagg Township. Drought, who has lived in Rochelle for 17 years, edged out his rivals in three others.

VanVickle also easily won some other precincts on the county’s eastern side.

Harn performed the best in his home base in the northwestern part of the county. In the village of Forreston, where he is village president, he won all three precincts, one in which he grabbed 77 percent of the vote.

Drought won two of the four precincts in Mount Morris, where he lived years ago.

In the Ogle County state’s attorney’s race, Oregon attorney Eric Morrow beat incumbent Mike Rock, 53 percent to 47 percent.

A year ago, the County Board unanimously voted to appoint Rock, who is from California but has been in Ogle County for more than 15 years. Morrow’s website says he was born in rural Illinois and lived in the state’s countryside his entire life.

Rock won two of the four precincts in Byron, where he lives.

In Forreston, Harn’s hometown, Morrow had healthy margins, ranging from 55 to 71 percent, better than most areas of the county. Harn seemed to favor Morrow, although he made no official endorsement.

On his Facebook page in the final days of his campaign, Harn posted an illustration of a “Hall of Shame,” which included the names of his opponents and Rock.

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