DIXON – Voters will decide contested races for mayor and City Council on Tuesday.
Incumbent Mayor Li Arellano Jr. is being challenged by Councilman Ryan Marshall.
Arellano, 37, owns Jimmy John’s in Dixon and Rock Falls and co-owns the Frosted Spoon in Rock Falls. He’s also a sergeant in the Army Reserves and served two combat tours in Iraq. Arellano, elected in 2015, is the city’s first Latino mayor and its first in the city manager form of government.
Marshall, 34, owns The Stables bar downtown, served on the Lee County Board for a year and a half and also was involved with Dixon Main Street and the Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the transition team to merge the organizations. He was elected in 2017.
Arellano said he’s accomplished many goals during this term and the city is on good footing, but there are still projects and issues he wants to see through, like the Viaduct Point riverfront revitalization project and finding solutions to address growing pension costs for the city.
“I love what I do, and I love being part of all of the good things happening in Dixon, and I want to continue to help push the community forward,” he said.
One of the main projects he’s proud of is the city putting more of a focus on catching up with fixing roads – they’re in the middle of a 2-year plan to spend about $4.5 million to catch up on resurfacing.
Both candidates agree on the importance of several topics, including the need for more infrastructure work, more partnerships with other governing bodies and organizations such as the Park District, and more sales tax revenue through economic development along Interstate 88 and the riverfront.
Marshall said his goals for office include trying to find a way to get more community members involved and volunteering, expanding visitor reach with tourism and marketing, and helping build up the workforce by working with Sauk Valley Community College and Dixon Public Schools.
He also said it’s important to talk to community members to find out what they want.
“They want safety, more activities for their children, the downtown to flourish, more stores and restaurants, transparency from their officials, cultural activities, and streets and infrastructure updated,” he said. “To get this done is not the job of one person; it is the work of a strong team willing to work together.”
On the council, incumbents Mike Venier and Kevin Marx will be looking to retain their seats against challenger Mary Oros.
Venier is one of the family owners of Venier Jewelers downtown, Marx is the chief practice officer at KSB Hospital as well as executive director for the Lee County Industrial Development Association, and Oros is an agent at Harrison Insurance Agency and motivational speaker for the United Way of Lee County.
Venier was elected in 2015, while Marx was appointed in 2015 to fill the Jesse Arjes’ seat.
All three agree that the biggest issue facing the city is its finances and the main goal should be to generate more revenue streams, and they all agree on the importance of economic development and fostering community partnerships.
Marx said the city has made strides with collaborating to streamline services and operations, Venier said it’s important that the city help its cultural offerings thrive, and Oros said one important issue is to maintain public safety services and improve stress management resources for first responders.
Council and mayor are 4-year terms.