With another election right around the corner, important races loom large in the futures of Dixon and Sterling.
Voters in the April 2 general election in both cities will choose their mayor for the next 4 years. In Sterling, it’s a 3-way race between incumbent Skip Lee, Alderman Jim Wise and Marc Batley, who lost to Lee in the 2011 election. In Dixon, Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr. faces a serious challenge from businessman Ryan Marshall.
A few council seats are also on the line. In Sterling, it’s experience versus youth in the 1st Ward, where Alderwoman Retha Elston must fend off Dasan Klingenberg, 22, to retain the seat she has held since 2006. In Dixon, three candidates are vying for two seats, both which carry 4-year terms. Incumbents Kevin Marx and Mike Venier must defeat insurance agent Mary Oros to keep their seats on the council.
Dixon also has five candidates in the mix for three school board seats. School Board Vice President Scott Johnson and Brandon Rogers hope to retain their seats against Rachael Gehlbach, Rachel Cocar and Melissa Gates.
Of all of the races in both cities, the Dixon School Board could be the most intriguing. In this race, the three challengers are teaming up in an effort to make a clean sweep of the seats. With a group of unified backers, they are campaigning together on a single website and Facebook page under the slogan “Moving Dixon Forward.”
The women, who all are part of the Parent Teacher Association, say their educational philosophies are similar and they could accomplish more working as a trio. Their battle cry has been a call for transparency and better communication with everyone who has a stake in the school district.
Johnson and Rogers definitely have the experience in this race, so this should be a true measuring stick of how satisfied voters are with the direction in which their school district is heading.
The district has dealt with some important – and contentious – issues over the last few years. Of all the races in Dixon and Sterling, this one probably comes with the most bad blood and the election finds the board at a crossroads.
During the Dixon Candidate Forum held Tuesday at the packed high school cafeteria, Rogers acknowledged the divisiveness by saying that one of his biggest goals was to see the community come together.
Debt is an issue as the district is looking at paying off up to $40 million in health, life and safety bonds for building renovations. The incumbents stressed that the five bonds are staggered, thus making the debt manageable, while the challengers don’t think it is financially sustainable.
Regardless of who wins the expiring seats, the school board will have a new leader because President Jill Stoker decided not to run.