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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Tom McNamara Wins In A Landslide In Rockford Mayoral Race

Susan Stephens

Democrat Tom McNamara took home the Rockford mayoral race with 68 percent of the vote.

Independent Rudy Valdez was runner-up with 16 percent. Republican Brian Leggero claimed 14 percent of votes, and Independent Ronnie Manns had two percent. 

McNamara will replace Larry Morrissey , a three-term mayor who decided last fall to not run for re-election.

McNamara serves as alderman in the Third Ward and worked as an insurance agent. 

He's previously said he’s the candidate who can provide the “bold, new, inclusionary, and collaborative leadership to lead us out of this.”

McNamara says his campaign had a positive message that focused on the city’s most important asset -- its people. "We've got to not just continue to talk about investing in buildings but investing in our people," he says, "And we do that by investing in their neighborhoods and their workforce development, so I think we touched on a whole host of things that people are really concerned about these days."

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ
Tom McNamara takes a breather along the Rock River during his election night party.

The 34-year-old Rockford native says his next move is putting together a strong team at city hall. 

McNamara's election night party drew a large crowd, especially considering the number of political gatherings that stretched across the city. Each mayoral candidate hosted his own election results viewing and the two major parties threw their own get-togethers. Three former Democratic Rockford mayors were among the high-profile guests at McNamara’s election night party. Charles Box and Doug Scott preceded Morrissey as Rockford's mayor. The new mayor's father, John McNamara, served two terms as mayor in the 1980s. 

McNamara may find a friendlier City Council seated before him when he is sworn in as mayor May 1st. Although Rockford's aldermen have tended not to vote along party lines, power will shift from Republicans to Democrats. Republican Jamie Getchius and Independent Teena Newburg are both incumbents who lost to their Democratic challengers. Democrats picked up two open spots for a total of 8 of 14 council seats. A record number of Independents ran this year – five for alderman and two for mayor – but they all lost.

  • WNIJ's Jessie Schlacks and Susan Stephens prepared this report.

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