by CLIFF and NANCY HILL
A tsunami of change swept the nation on last Tuesday’s national election day. The giant wave had enough inertia to even affect Rockford’s non-partisan City Council election.
Five well-qualified candidates were vying for two open seats on the five-member Rockford City Council. In a stunning defeat Rockford Mayor Janice (Chi-Chi) Rogers was unseated in her bid for an eighth term on the Council.
After the votes were tabulated for the hotly contested two open seats Rogers found herself in third place, thus ending a career of service to the City of Rockford that began in 1991.
Strong voter turnout resulted in the following Final totals:
Jerry Coon 713 Winner
Steve Jazwiec 712 Winner
Janice ‘Chi Chi’ Rogers 570
Roger Strauss 448
Robert Winegar 431
Rogers tells the Squire, “I had a great run, I’m sad but not disappointed and I respect the voters choices.” Over the years Chi-Chi had enjoyed strong support from Rockford City voters but this time around it was not meant to be. Chi-Chi said, “I’m proud of my many accomplishments and achievements in office, especially when my fellow Councilmen saw fit to honor me, four separate times, to serve as Mayor of the City I love.”
In Rockford the office of Mayor is largely ceremonial and is not determined by Rockford City voters in an open election. But rather, City Council members choose amongst themselves who will represent the City as Mayor. In general, the duties of Mayor are to preside over City Council Meetings and to represent the City at various functions throughout the term of office.
Additionally, Mayors are empowered to officiate at weddings, something that Chi-Chi dearly loved to do. During her terms as Mayor she officiated at the weddings of well over 200 couples. “I was able to preside over the wedding of my own son and the weddings of many grandchildren,” said Chi-Chi, adding, “During the last two years I had the distinct pleasure of marrying twelve of my Rockford Meijer co-workers.”
Chi-Chi summarized by saying, “I loved being on ‘Council’ and being someone that City residents could easily approach with their concerns.”
“It was always obvious that Chi-Chi thoroughly enjoyed her time on City Council. She took the position of Mayor very seriously while serving the residents of Rockford,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young.
Jerry Coon, in his first bid for City Council office, was the top vote getter. He enjoyed the strong backing of many local endorsements. Coon, a prominent local businessman, had a reputation of honesty and integrity along with being an expert in areas of tax and finance.
“I want to thank all of the people who encouraged, supported, and voted for me in my campaign to become a member of the Rockford City Council,” said Coon, adding, “Election day takes on a whole new meaning when your name is on the ballot!”
Coon went on to say, “Rockford, like all Michigan municipalities, is going to face financial challenges in the future. We have a great team on City Council and I am confident we can work together to overcome all obstacles in our path.”
In losing her City Council seat, Chi-Chi Rogers gave a ringing endorsement to Coon saying, “He (Coon) is a good man and will do a fine job.”
Incumbent Steve Jazwiec finished second at the polls (by one scant vote). In doing so he was re-elected to a fourth term on Rockford’s City Council. In his winning bid, Jazwiec parlayed strong name recognition for his community involvement and advocacy of the Rockford Area Arts Commission and the Rockford Celtic Festival. Most notably, Jazwiec was the organizer of the very popular Huntington Rogue River Blues Series since its inception.
“The coming years will be very exciting times for Rockford with the development of the 10-Mile Corridor and the Wolverine Tannery property,” said Coon, adding, “The fun and hard work begins on Monday, November 8. We can hardly wait to get started.”