Kleckler defeats Rock Falls Mayor Wescott by one vote

Two incumbents, one newcomer elected to the council

ROCK FALLS – Incumbent Mayor Bill Wescott appears to have lost to his challenger, Ward 3 Alderman Rod Kleckler, by one vote.

With all 10 precincts reporting, Kleckler was in the lead, 404 to 403 votes in unofficial results.

Kleckler was elected to the Ward 3 seat in 2015, defeating 24-year incumbent Dave Hand, and then ran unopposed in 2019.

Kleckler, like his constituents, is aggravated by the state of the city’s streets, long a source of complaints, and wants to make progress repairing the roads.

When it comes to other infrastructure projects, though, Kleckler wants to takes more of a wait-and-see approach, citing what he says is the importance of fiscal conservatism.

Wescott was the city clerk when he first was elected mayor in 2013 in a race against then-two-term incumbent David Blanton. He ran unopposed for a second term in 2017.

While campaigning, Wescott cited finding financial stability in the wake of the pandemic and getting back on track with projects that were set to the side because of it, and improving city streets, were the No. 1 concern of Rock Falls residents, and so also his main concerns.

Other challenges include funding police and fire pensions, finding ways to pay for aging infrastructure, bringing in more affordable housing, and attracting economic development, the mayor said.

Three aldermanic races also were held Tuesday. Two incumbents and one newcomer were elected to the council.

In the Ward 2 race for an unexpired 2-year term, Casey Babel, appointed to the council in July following the death of Glen Kuhlemier, was leading Dennis Fulrath, a member of the Sauk Valley Community College Board of Trustees and the retired son of a former Ward 2 alderman, 86 to 72 votes, or 54.43% to 45.57%.

Fulrath also made an unsuccessful run in 2017 for council.

Babel works in IT at KSB Hospital in Dixon. Fulrath’s 6-year term on the college board is up this year.

In Ward 3, recently retired Northwestern Steel and Wire worker Steven Dowd defeated longtime incumbent Jim Schuneman, 135 to 103, or 56.72% to 43.28%.

Schuneman has served on the council for 12 years, and spent 10 years on the East Coloma School Board.

Ward 4 Alderwoman Violet Sobottka was leading newcomer Marshall Doane, 86 to 66, or 56.58% to 43.42 %. Sobottka has been on the City Council 4 years – she was elected to finish the final 2 years of an unexpired term in 2019, a seat to which she was appointed in May 2017.

Doane works for Riverside Logistics for Cimco.

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.