DIXON – Mayor Li Arellano Jr. soon will be deployed to the Middle East and plans to maintain most of his city duties overseas.
Arellano, a sergeant in the Army Reserves who served two combat tours in Iraq, is being called to serve in the 317th Engineer Company based in Homewood around late August.
With training, the deployment likely will last about 9 months, and as a construction squad leader he will oversee about a dozen troops.
City protocols are being put in place for his absence, but Arellano said Friday that he should still be able to keep up with calls and emails as well as attend City Council meetings via teleconference during his down time, depending on duty in the field.
“The biggest change will be not being able to make face-to-face meetings and constituent visits,” he said.
Councilman Mike Venier is the presiding officer when Arellano is away, meaning he will run council meetings, and the city likely will make him deputy mayor to fill in as needed.
City Manager Danny Langloss and City Clerk Keesha Blumhoff already have authority to sign off on day-to-day city business, and they’re also looking into a digital signature program for Arellano to use when it’s needed for certain contracts. They might also upgrade their teleconference equipment.
“With our city manager form of government, it’s especially good at adapting to situations like this,” he said.
Arellano’s wife, Jamie, always has been supportive and was part of his decision to re-enlist last year, but he said the No. 1 challenge will be being away from his four children, Ayla, 8; Charlotte, 6; Leo, 2; and 10-month-old Isabella.
Arellano, 38, re-enlisted with a 6-year contract with the Reserves at the 485th Engineer Company in Machesney Park in March 2018, and he received his transfer orders to the 317th last week.
He was elected in 2015 as Dixon’s first Latino mayor and its first under the city manager form of government; he was re-elected to his second 4-year term in April. Arellano owns Jimmy John’s in Dixon and Rock Falls and co-owns the Frosted Spoon in Rock Falls.
He went to Iraq on two combat tours, one in 2005 for 8 months and another in 2009 for a year.