Third candidate enters Sterling mayor’s race
STERLING – When Marc Batley lost in a landslide to then Alderman Skip Lee in the 2011 election, he indicated it wouldn’t be his last foray into local elective office. It took a while, but he plans to give the mayor’s office another shot.
Batley, 61, a 1975 Sterling High School graduate, says he plans to give voters another choice for mayor on the April 2 ballot, along with Lee and Alderman Jim Wise.
Batley was in the Navy for 20 years before retiring in 1996. He then became an aide with the Illinois Department of Human Services – Division of Rehabilitation Services. He is an unpaid bar manager at the Latin-American Social Club and also volunteers his time through church-sponsored activities.
In the 2011 election, Lee received nearly 79 percent of the vote. The turnout was low that year, with only 600 votes cast, or 8.5 percent of the city’s registered voters going to the polls.
After the election, Batley was disappointed more by the voter apathy than the results.
“Freedom isn’t free, and I wish that more people would have understood that people are willing to die for the right to live in a democratic country. Here we have that luxury, and 90 percent of the registered voters didn’t vote,” Batley said.
Lee ran unopposed for his second term, but Batley didn’t seriously consider a run then.
“Skip was still pretty new to the job and I figured it would be good to give him another term to carry out his plans, but now I thought it might be time for a change,” Batley said.
Batley isn’t ashamed to tell people that he has no government experience, but he thinks that could allow him to bring a new perspective to the office.
In 2011, Batley ran on a broad platform of bringing honesty, integrity and transparency to City Hall, and he says that hasn’t changed. His emphasis on the local economy also remains the same.
“The most important thing in my campaign will be focusing on how to bring jobs back to town,” Batley said.
Batley said he questions some of the city’s priorities. With money getting tighter, he sees development of the riverfront a luxury item.
“Making the riverfront look pretty is a nice dream that can happen someday, but the city’s roads need a lot of work and that should be done first,” Batley said.
There’s still time for the mayoral field to get more crowded. Prospective candidates can gather signatures until Nov. 19, the same day the filing period begins. Candidates then have until Nov. 26 to turn in their paperwork to the city clerk’s office.