Full Name: Diana Merdian
What office are you seeking? City of Sterling Mayor
What is your political party? Nonpartisan election
What is your current age? 38
Occupation and Employer: Regional Office of Education #47
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Ran for Ward 1 Alderman for Sterling in 2015
Campaign Website: https://dianaformayor61081.poliengine.com/
Education Experience-Newman Central Catholic High School Grad 2003
Dale Carnegie Leadership Graduate (2002)
Student Council State Recognition (2003)
Education Experience-Sauk Valley Community College Graduate (2007) Associates Degree
Sauk Valley Librarian Workstudy (2003-2005)
Education Experience-Ashford University Bachelor’s Healthcare Studies with a minor in Psychology
Education Experience-Ashford University Master’s in Education with a specialization in Family and Community Services
Former Board of Directors Home of Hope Cancer Wellness (2017-2018)
Current Executive Member Sauk Valley STARS Early Childhood Coalition (2018-present)
Current Executive Member IRIS Community Referral System *Data and Systems Manager in Coordination with The University of Kansas and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood (2020-present)
Current member-Ogle County Coalition that cares (2018-present)
Current member-Whiteside County Healthier Partnership (2018-present)
Current member-Raising Illinois Home Visiting Workgroup (2021-present)
Current member of Scared Heart Church in Sterling.
Former Middle School Youth Group Cathetist and Confirmation Leader at Sacred Heart Church in Sterling (2014-2020)
Former Sacred Heart Church Softball league (2014-2015)
2020-2022 Thanksgiving Support from organized food for 548 individuals
2019-2022 Christmas Food Support from 2019-2022 organized food for 580 individuals
2019-2022 Christmas Gift Support from collected gifts for 235 kids and teens
Former Sterling Fiesta Queen Nominee (2002)
Former Director of Camp DREAM (Diabetes Camp for children) (2014-2018)
Presenter at Statewide Plan Partner Act Conference (2022)
Current Executive Member- Early Childhood Community Based Early Childhood Expansion Project Lee, Ogle, Whiteside Counties in Coordination with Illinois Action for Children Agency (2021-present)
Current member of Twin Cities Farmers Market Bowling League team
Former Sterling Riverfront Focus Group Participant (2015)
Current member-Friends of the Sterling Riverfront Group
Whiteside County Back-to-School Supply Drive in Coordination with Whiteside County Juvenile Justices (2022)
Ogle County Back-to-School Supply Drive in Coordination with Ogle County Justices (2022)
Ogle County Health Dept Leadership Institute (2022)
Rochelle Fiesta (2022)
Sterling Sights and Sounds (2022)
Marital status/Immediate family: I am married with three children.
Why are you running for office?
I am running for Mayor of the City of Sterling to better advocate for our town and residents. The Mayor can advocate and collaborate with residents, the City Manager, City Council, businesses, and State leaders. I have experience in all of these matters. I am willing and have the drive and determination to ensure progress is continued on the Riverfront and our infrastructure. We have an opportunity to start a new era with a new Mayor. I am honored to be a part of the solution, and I am willing to put in the work to make our town the place where people come to live and grow their families.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
My experience working in various roles has given me the immense knowledge to be Mayor. We need a Mayor willing to collaborate and knows their ego needs to take a back seat. It is about the residents of our town. I have a decade of experience working with citizens across the Sauk Valley Area of every race, party, religion, disability status, sexual orientation, etc. I value every family I have ever worked with, and I work hard to ensure they feel that they are a part of the community and have something to contribute. We need a Mayor who can communicate effectively with our citizens and value and respect their experiences even if they differ from their own.
The Mayor does not handle the city’s day-to-day work. That is the City Manager. The Mayor is the person who facilitates the City Council meetings and ensures issues and topics are addressed. I have experience facilitating and collaborating with meetings in various settings—In-person, virtual, and hybrid. I do not shy away from taking the lead if a discussion starts to go off course. I allow people to have the space to voice their concerns. I have experience working within funding streams from the State and Federal governments. I have a broad knowledge of the requirements and sometimes frustrations that come with certain types of funding. I have worked with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood and various State agencies to support and collaborate on projects. Whenever I work across the State, I always talk about what we offer in our area. I want people to see our area as a place to move, work, or visit. We need a Mayor who is looking for opportunities to bring growth to our area. We can’t just wait for developers. We need a Mayor who is an advocate, and I have decades of experience in that.
What is your position on the Illinois weapons ban that took effect in January 2023?
This issue is currently being litigated in the courts. As an elected official, I will support the ruling of our courts on this matter.
Is crime a problem in your community and, if so, what would you do to curb it?
Crime is an issue in every community, and how we respond matters. I support our police having the resources they need to keep us safe. I also want to invest in mental health resources because of how intertwined mental health and crime tend to be. I also want to work to improve blighted properties in Sterling to clean up our neighborhoods and make them better places to live.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
I think our local leaders did the best job they possibly could during an unprecedented global event. I am happy that our social and economic recovery is progressing as well as it is and I am excited to build on that progress here in Sterling.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I lost multiple family members and friends during the pandemic. The biggest takeaway is to value the relationships in your life and always let your loved ones know how much you care about them.
How would you spur economic development in your community?
I will work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Sterling Development Corporation to create economic development policies and incentives that will incentivize new businesses to come to Sterling while retaining businesses that we already have. This balanced and methodological approach will ensure long-term growth for our community.
Would/can/should local governments do anything to help reduce the tax burden on residents?
The most effective way to reduce the tax burden on residents is to make our community attractive to new families. More people living in Sterling means a lower tax rate for everyone. Beyond that, any new development we can attract will also likely reduce the tax burden on residents.
Do you support recreational marijuana being sold in your community to help lower residents’ tax burden?
I would support recreational marijuana being sold in Sterling so long as we qualify and follow all its regulations and legal rules. I think it could also be a tool to lower the tax burden on residents.
What projects or infrastructure would you look to address in your community and how would you do it?
I would like to explore using grants, partnerships, and other resources to create a comprehensive capital plan for Sterling. This would provide us with much-needed resources for road maintenance, planning for future development, and ensuring that traveling in our city is as easy as possible. It would also support local jobs.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I support open, transparent government.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Would you sign a nondisclosure agreement with a prospective company that would limit your ability to communicate with your community?
This will have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. As stated, I support open, transparent government. However, some companies will not do business in a community without some form of NDA, and I would hate to lose new growth and development because of a hardline stance on this specific issue.