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WCBU is committed to helping you become an informed voter ahead of the April 6 local election.

Defeated Washington Mayoral Candidate Lilija Stevens Won't Rule Out Another Run

Lilija Stevens
Washington Ward 1 Alderman Lilija Stevens says she is disappointed by her loss to incumbent Gary Manier in the city's mayoral elections. She said she plans to finish out her current term as alderman.

UPDATED 3:42 p.m. | As voters in Washington elect Gary Manier to a sixth term as mayor, his opponent said she's leaving the door open to another run in the future.

"We'll just have to see what happens," said Lilija Stevens, who lost Tuesday's election by just 83 votes. "You never know what tomorrow brings."

Stevens serves as Ward 1 alderman. She said there are many issues in the city's government that still need addressing.

"I really, really would like to do something to increase more community involvement in our local government," said Stevens. "It's a shame that a town this size had such low voter turnout."

According to Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, the turnout rate for the City of Washington was around 27%. Meanwhile, the overall turnout rate in Tazewell County was less than 10%. 

Manier said he felt "great" about winning another term.

"We stayed positive throughout the whole process," said Manier. "The outcome turned out OK."

It was the city's first nonpartisan mayoral election in about a century. In previous elections, Manier ran as a Republican. He was first elected to the position in 2001. 

Manier said the city has had "incredible growth" during his tenure. He said he wants there to be opportunities to build businesses in Washington.

"We want to make sure that we keep growing that sales tax base so we can afford to keep the services that our citizens (are) accustomed to," said Manier.

Stevens said she thought it was time for someone else to have a chance.

"Gary has been the mayor for 20 years, and 20 years is a very long time," said Stevens. "I think it is important to have new ideas and opportunities for new people to join the local government leadership."

She wished Manier the best in his new term.

Stevens said she is proud of the campaign she conducted, though she said it was a "very difficult election."

"There were a lot of situations that disturbed me, because many times it wasn't issue based, it was personal based," said Stevens. "I don't care for that."

For now, Stevens said she plans on finishing the two-year term she was previously elected to as alderman. 

"I have gotten so many messages and phone calls and texts of encouragement," said Stevens. "I see a bright side in the disappointment of last night."

As for what's ahead, Manier said he wants to focus on infrastructure going into his new term, particularly on the city's east end.

"We're excited to see what's going to happen here and just looking forward to it," said Manier.

Manier also said in an earlier interview he wants to continue growing the city's business climate.

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Christine Hatfield, a graduate student in University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program, is WGLT and WCBU's PAR intern for the first half of 2021.