STERLING – Youthful enthusiasm appeared to win out Tuesday as newcomer Kaitlyn Ekquist unseated two-term Alderman John Stauter for a 4-year spot as alderman-at-large on the City Council. Incumbent Jim Wise won the second 4-year term.
With all 18 precincts reporting, Ekquist won 646 votes, or 39.34%, while Wise garnered 570, or 34.71%. Stauter trailed with 426 votes, or 25.94%.
Ekquist said she was taking her first run at a government office because she said she believes the city needs “a fresh perspective.”
“I believe we need more regular people in office. We need people who are currently working for a living and actually feel the weight of the budget and policy changes that our City Council makes,” she said while campaigning.
“In addition, every generation is represented in our local government except for Millennials and Generation Z. We deserve a voice and a seat at the table.”
Bringing young professionals to the local work force is one of her goals, and she believes that investing in the beatification of the downtown, and especially the riverfront, will help in that effort.
Ekquist handles e-commerce and marketing for the clothing boutique UOI in downtown Sterling.
Wise, 60, won a second term on the council.
He has a wealth experience, having served in various government positions over more than 25 years – as an alderman in Belvidere, a city administrator in Morrison, and village administrator in Cherry Valley – before first winning this seat in 2017.
Wise cited list of projects begun on his watch that he would like to see through – riverfront development among them – and also said lack of affordable housing is a problem the city needs to address.
He also wants to work with local landlords to establish a rental property inspection ordinance.
Wise also is proud of the fact that there has been zero growth in the property tax rate over the last 4 years he has served, a record he plans to maintain.
He also sees the council’s role as one of historic preservationist.
“We are redeveloping our riverfront to create the opportunity for jobs, new businesses and to reuse the former manufacturing sites on our riverfront,” Wise said during his campaign.
“As we redevelop our riverfront, it is important that we preserve the history these iconic manufacturing businesses on our riverfront created for our community.”
Stauter, a longtime CPA, was seeking his third term on the board.