Most fiscally conservative candidates turned down in Elgin

Updated 4/5/2017 10:23 PM
  • John Prigge

    John Prigge

Just like two years ago, the most fiscally conservative candidates for Elgin City Council had the poorest showing in the election.

Two-term Councilman John Prigge, who finished sixth among seven candidates, harped on the notion Elgin's property taxes are too high and the city should curtail expenses. He was the lone "no" vote on the city's 2017 budget.

Challenger Brandon Yaniz, who advocated helping small businesses and freezing property taxes and some city spending, placed last.

According to Tuesday's unofficial results, the two top vote-getters were Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger and challenger Corey Dixon, whose platforms included fostering diversity and revitalizing downtown. Rich Dunne and Terry Gavin were also re-elected.

Rauschenberger said she and Dixon had optimistic messages that voters responded to.

Dixon agreed. "Positivity, diversity, inclusion -- I think that's really important to this community," he said.

Voters know it takes money to run a city well, said Councilwoman Rose Martinez, who was not up for re-election. "We want a safe city. Technology is pretty expensive," she said. "As voters, we want people to watch our money, but we are realistic in what the needs are."

Voters also chose liberal candidates in Elgin Township and Elgin Area School District U-46, which points to a well-coordinated "get out the vote" effort by Democrats, Yaniz said.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's weakened political stance also cast a shadow on local elections, Prigge and Yaniz said.

Councilman Toby Shaw, who wasn't up for re-election, said negative campaign tactics against Prigge were the main reason behind the incumbent's loss.

As for Yaniz, "as a candidate without much name recognition, it was going to be really tough to break in," Shaw said.

Rauschenberger called the negative campaigning "sad," but said Prigge's own negativity about the state of the city hurt him more.

When incumbents lose, Mayor David Kaptain said, it's also about the quality of the challengers. Dixon, a planning and zoning commissioner, "was a good choice," Kaptain said.

Prigge wasn't able to work with others effectively to move his agenda forward, which is essential for political longevity, Kaptain said. "Other than being up there to complain, how is he helping out his constituents?" Kaptain said.

Still, there is value in having dissenting opinions within the council, he said.

"John's loss will change the discussion, and maybe diminish the discussion a little bit," Kaptain said. "Trying to see things from a different perspective is healthy for the city council -- and for the city."

Prigge said he got a measure of relief from losing the election by such a definitive margin.

"You could think, 'Could I have knocked on one more door? Could I have answered one of the forum questions differently?' Then it would have really gnawed at me," he said. "But this way, there is nothing that I could have done."

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