PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — In eight days, local elections will have people lined up to fill out their ballots, but off-year elections traditionally have lower turnout than the primaries. Local officials are saying the numbers look better than previous years, however.

In 2021, a total of 9,385 people turned in their Tazewell County Election ballots. That’s less than 10% of the county’s population. That number seems to be increasing this year, but county officials won’t know for sure until election day.

As of Monday, March 27, 2,750 people have voted by mail, while 1,103 have voted early. That’s 2,511 more early voters and votes by mail than in 2019.

Running for Pekin Mayor are Pro Tempore Mayor Becky Cloyd, City Councilman David Nutter, and Tazewell County Treasurer Mary Burress. It’s a race that county officials are getting excited for.

“This local election is the race which has the highest amount of impact on the daily lives of every citizen,” said Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman.

While road proposals are not specifically on the ballot, mayoral candidates have plans for roads that need updating. Candidates also discussed sewer replacement, city staff hiring, and other measures.

Nutter goes by the five “S’s.” “Security is police, safety is fire, streets, sidewalks, and sewers. Those five S’s are critical. Those are the basics of any city.”

Nutter would also hope to improve audits. He said the city is three years past due on audits, which in turn affects the rating in the bond market, as well as the city’s overall rating.

Pro Tempore Mayor Becky Cloyd would want to better the job market and housing concerns to bring new business to the area, aside from fixing specific roads.

Cloyd is also excited and hopeful she can hit the ground running if she’s elected. “To be back on the ballot is actually more rewarding because I’ve really had to fight for this position,” said Cloyd. “I’ve kept that temperament throughout the rest of this election to just fight for the position and actually fight for the people of Pekin.”

Although these are issues that impact residents of Pekin, past voter turnout shows many people don’t care enough to come out and vote.

“The individuals at the local level, they’re over 90% of your property tax bill, they’re responsible for making those decisions, they’re making the decisions of how your kids are taught in school, they’re assessing how the streets, what streets are taken care of, how your garbage is taken care of,” said Ackerman. “Over the last three elections, our high was 18% turnout, that’s really disappointing to see an 18% turnout. I’m hoping it’s higher.”

Pekin’s city council represents over 30,000 residents, and Nutter is hoping those voices will speak through filling out the ballot. “If you have a voice, the voice is through the ballot box.”

Cloyd wanted to remind residents that city officials don’t work for themselves, they work for the residents.

Early voting continues through election day, and those not registered can do so at the Tazewell County Clerk’s Office.

WMBD reached out to the third Pekin Mayoral candidate, Mary Burress, and she responded with a comment.

“Pekin residents feel their government has not been working on their behalf the last few years, and I want to lead the charge in solving that problem. It was an honor to serve as Tazewell County’s Treasurer for 12 years, managing a staff that was charged with being good stewards of the tax dollars of 135,000 residents. To face Pekin’s largest challenges like improving infrastructure, restoring responsible government, and enhancing our local economy, we need a Mayor who has the experience to implement a long-term vision for our future that is practical, proficient, and positive. I believe I am the best candidate to do just that.”

Mary Burress, Tazewell County’s Treasurer, running for Pekin Mayor