DIXON – Mayor Jim Burke says he expects to seek re-election next year.
Burke, a real estate agent, was elected in 1999 and won a fourth term for mayor in 2011 in a close race. His term expires in 2015.
During an interview Tuesday with Sauk Valley Media’s editorial board, Burke said he planned to run again.
“The reason I want to run again is for the same reason I ran to start with, which is the mayor can make things happen,” Burke said. “And we have a lot of things to get done going forward with this community.”
Burke said he wanted to finish developing the downtown, expand the use and reach of the airport, and put together a task force to look into growing the city.
In October, Burke said he wasn’t ready to make a decision about seeking re-election.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to run,” Burke said Tuesday. “I kind of wanted to see what the reaction of the community was with all this. This thing has been, you talk about a stressful deal for the city – people at large – and the City Council and the mayor’s job. It’s really been a deal and a half for 2 years.”
Former Comptroller Rita Crundwell was arrested at City Hall on April 17, 2012, for stealing nearly $54 million over two decades.
In the 2 years following Crundwell’s arrest, Burke and the rest of the City Council have come under scrutiny from citizens regarding what they may or may not have known about Crundwell’s theft.
“There’s really a lot of pride in this community,” Burke said. “And I think that goes to the heart of why most people were so upset. I mean, they’re really proud of the community.”
He said a citizen who had been critical of him during City Council meetings recently encouraged him to run again.
Burke said the citizen told him that he felt bad about the way he had spoken to him and wanted to apologize. Burke and the citizen shook hands, the mayor said.
“So I think a lot of the anger has receded,” Burke said. “So unless there’s some groundswell, if I thought I was going to get booted out, I wouldn’t go.”
Businessman leaning toward running against Burke
Li Arellano, a Dixon businessman, said he's leaning toward running for mayor in 2015 and called for Mayor Jim Burke to step down.
"His tenure is marred by one of the largest municipal frauds in U.S. history, and that is no basis for a re-election campaign," Arellano said in an email. "Whether or not he accepts his portion of responsibility, he is no longer in a position to offer Dixon strong, unifying leadership. Should he remain in power there will be continued division and anger."
Arellano said he wants to make sure residents have a choice.
Arellano owns the Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches location in Dixon and is working to open a location in Rock Falls soon.
The status of his business will play a role in his decision whether to run, Arellano said, but he wants to make sure he is prepared, if he decides to move forward with a campaign.
In March 2012, Arellano lost a Republican Party primary to Tom Demmer, a Dixon Republican who went on to win the 90th District state representative race.