I hope this is just the beginning. I have so much more to give you guys, it’s not even funny.— Ken Kolowski, Peru mayor elect
Peru mayor-elect Ken Kolowski needed some time to get away from it all after 2 1/2 years on the campaign trail.
He took his cellphone and took a walk to his backyard, hitting the record button to go on Facebook live on his campaign page.
“I’m without words,” he said, with his voice getting emotional, pausing before the next sentence. “I’ve been reflecting on this 2 1/2-year adventure in which you guys have let me into your lives, and talked to me, listened to me, hear me, listen to you ... It’s weird that it’s over.”
But in many ways, it’s just beginning for Kolowski. He is in position to serve as the next Peru mayor for the next four years.
“I hope this is just the beginning,” he said. “I have so much more to give you guys, it’s not even funny.”
With all the precincts counted across La Salle County on Tuesday Kolowski leads his opponent, Mayor Scott Harl, by an unofficial vote count of 1,485 to 1,394.
La Salle County Clerk Lori Bongartz reported there are at maximum 119 mail-in ballots that if they are postmarked correctly and returned to the clerk’s office in the next two weeks may be counted. It is not known, however, where those ballots are from.
Leading up to Tuesday’s election, Kolowski had been outspoken on his campaign Facebook page and spoke during a forum at Peru Public Library about what he would like to see for Peru under his leadership.
Kolowski has been adamant he decided to run for mayor as a “kid from Peru” that thinks the city can do some things better and he is not a politician.
“This isn’t personal,” Kolowski said. “There’s a misconception out there that this is personal and it’s not, it’s just about policies. Basically what this is, is the difference between (Harl) and myself.”
Kolowski has made it clear he is a strong proponent of the construction and re-installment of a public swimming pool and believes there may be a way to fund the expense by utilizing franchise tags from the city’s utilities fund.
He also said during the forum he believes something needs to be done soon unless the cost of installing a pool could become something that becomes too expensive for the city to be able to consider.
Kolowski has mentioned he is not one to make campaign promises but instead wants to be a mayor that will listen to the concerns of the public and try his best to work with the council to improve the city.
Wasteful spending is a problem in Peru, according to Kolowski, and he believes it can be cleaned up in order to make the city more fiscally responsible.
To Kolowski, it’s no secret the Peru Mall has seen a dramatic decrease in stores in recent years as they are in competition with home shopping companies, such as Amazon.
Kolowski wants to see the future of Peru shift some of its focus to the success of small businesses and strengthen areas of town, such as the downtown area. He credits surrounding communities, such as La Salle, for their strong downtown.
Over the last two and half years, Kolowski has said he has attended many Peru and surrounding communities council meetings as an observer to help prepare him for this opportunity.
For Kolowski, listening is the key to his leadership style as he would like to create a welcoming City Hall for citizens and a meeting environment where anyone is encouraged to have to come with any comments or concerns regarding the city.
He has said on multiple occasions he would immediately push for the removal of an ordinance timing public comment during public meetings. He would like all residents with questions to have the ability to get their questions answered.
Harl was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday night, but he ran on his track record of fiscal responsibility in the city and the construction of several new projects, such as the new Peru police station, a roundabout linking city streets, a new splash pad, ice skating rink and a band shell at Centennial Park.
Other City Results:
Incumbent City Clerk Dave Bartley bested challenger Sherry Mayszak by an unofficial vote total of 1,650 to 1,174 with all precincts reported across the county.
Incumbent City Treasurer John “Jackson” Powell also was the winner Tuesday, defeating his challenger, Nickie Pellegrini, by an unofficial vote count of 1,694 to 1,092.