DIXON – Dixon Republican Bradley Fritts has won the 74th Illinois House District seat in his first run for state office.
Fritts, a farmer and teacher, garnered the majority of the vote during Tuesday’s primary election against Dixon Mayor Li Arellano Jr. on the Republican ballot for state representative. No Democrats are running for the seat.
Fritts had 2,216 votes or 53.24% in Lee County, 1,289 votes or 54.6% in Whiteside County, 910 votes or 69.31% in La Salle County, 1,158 votes or 55.43% in Ogle County, and 587 votes in DeKalb County.
Arellano had 1,946 votes in Lee County, 1,072 votes in Whiteside County, 403 votes in La Salle County, 931 votes in Ogle County and 189 in DeKalb County.
Totals were 6,160 votes for Fritts with nearly 58% and 4,541 votes for Arellano, according to final unofficial election results.
The 74th House District includes parts of Lee, Whiteside, Ogle, DeKalb and La Salle counties.
“We are grateful we were victorious in the primary and want to thank everyone who made that possible,” Fritts said Wednesday. “However, the real celebration will be when we start making changes in Illinois to make all of our lives better. I am so humbled to be the Republican nominee, and I will make you proud serving as your next state rep.”
Arellano said he wishes Fritts the best, commends all of the Sauk Valley candidates on their efforts and hopes they provide a strong voice for the rural region. He said he plans to focus on finishing his second term as mayor, and continuing his business and military careers.
“My deep thanks to all of the supporters who brought us this far,” Arellano said. “I truly felt called to serve in Springfield and am deeply saddened that I will not be able to represent you. Thank you to all who voted for me and encouraged me.”
Fritts farms with his family and is a substitute social sciences teacher at Newman Central Catholic High School.
He’s a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Newman Central Catholic High School.
He is the son of Nancy and Dixon Township Supervisor Ed Fritts, and he served as a precinct committeeman.
Fritts previously said he believes top issues facing the district include roads, workforce shortages and effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, including a loss of learning for Illinois students.
“Deteriorating roads is the most common complaint I hear from district voters,” he said. “Not long ago, another 19-cent gas tax was imposed to help rebuild and maintain roads. Even with this new revenue, we still have roads in dire need of repair. I would work with [the Illinois Department of Transportation] to develop and fund a plan to resurface roads in a timely manner.
“Workforce shortages are a major issue, particularly in trades, health care and schools. I will work with our local community colleges to help create or build upon programs designed to address these shortages at low cost to the students.
“The third issue we face are the long-term effects of COVID, particularly in school districts. I have seen firsthand students who are multiple grade levels behind in their curriculum due to lost time in the classroom during COVID. As a recent student and now an educator, I will work with teachers, administration and parents to develop commonsense solutions for moving forward from COVID’s consequences.”
Arellano 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 three combat tours. Elected in 2015, he is the city’s first Latino mayor and its first in the city manager form of government.
He recently announced he would not seek a third term as mayor.
He and his wife, Jamie, have four children.
Arellano also has served on the Illinois Municipal League board of directors, the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone Board and the Lee County Industrial Development Association.
Last week, Fritts’ cousin and campaign manager John Fritts, the former longtime Lee County Treasurer, was killed in a two-car crash in La Salle County near Earlville. Fritts was injured in the June 20 crash but not seriously. Both he and John were thrown from the SUV, and John died at the scene. Funeral services were held on Saturday.
Brad was taken to Mendota OSF St. Paul Medical Center and later flown to a trauma center. He was later released and said he was doing “physically well.” Brad’s mother Nancy L. Fritts, was treated for minor injuries and David Fritts, a retired Lee County Circuit Court judge, was not injured. The driver and occupants of the other car were not injured.
In a tribute to “Uncle John,” Fritts said he “was a pillar of our large Fritts family because of the leadership, faith, and love that he showed. He set a wonderful example of Christian values.”