Write-in candidate wins election

Amy Kent/Clinton HeraldFulton, Illinois residents Darrell (right) and Susan Rus (left) participate in Tuesday’s consolidated election at the Fulton Presbyterian Church. 

FULTON, Ill. — With more than 50 percent of the vote, the people of the Third Ward have spoken and Len Janis is their selection as Fulton City Council Alderman.

In the only contested race of Tuesday’s consolidated election, Janis faced-off against Charity Houzenga, a self-proclaimed political newcomer, who received 15 of the total 39 votes in Ward Three.

As a write-in candidate, Janis felt a slight disadvantage coming in to Tuesday’s election, but was pleased that his supporters took the extra effort to ensure his victory.

“I feel great about it,” Janis said. “Things happen when you’re a people person.”

He also commended Houzenga, as a newcomer, for the effort she put in and for receiving the votes that she did.

“I give Charity Houzenga credit for running; she got 15 votes,” Janis said.

With 24 votes of his own, Janis narrowly beat out his competitor, who went on to say that she believed Tuesday’s 39 votes was a record for the Third Ward in a consolidated election.

And while she may not have earned a seat on the Fulton City Council, Houzenga vowed this wasn’t her final push to see a change in the city.

“I’ll try again; (until) that time I’m still going to pursue the issues down here.” Houzenga said. “I’ve got (time) to think on it now. This was kind of a last minute thing and I did have a lot of support so that was nice.”

In the uncontested races for Tuesday’s election, incumbents Barb Mask, Dan Nederhoff and Mike Van Zuiden all retained their aldermen positions, with 100 percent of the votes in their respective wards, for another four years.

The position of City Clerk also was up for election this year, but without a candidate, it will remain empty until an applicant is appointed.

A total of 99 people turned out for Tuesday’s vote, a dismal display of community support to Elsie Foster, who worked as a ballot counter at the Fulton Presbyterian Church.

But it wasn’t just Fulton that showed low voting numbers during the consolidated election. Out of Whiteside County’s nearly 38,000 voters, 8.5 percent, 3,200 people showed up to the polls.

When Houzenga attempts another run at the city council in 2018, her plan is to get those numbers up and encourage people to speak out about their concerns.

“I’ve learned a lot of things the last few months; somebody needs to start speaking up,” Houzenga said. “Don’t be afraid to do it. If you believe in something, stand up for it.”

Janis is hoping his new role in the city of Fulton can do just that.

“There’s things to be done. They want to build some houses around here, so lets get it done,” Janis said. “I like doing things in our community, we’ve just got to keep things moving.” 

Clinton Herald Staff Writer Amy Kent can be contacted at amykent@clintonherald.com.

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