Fourth ward incumbent utilizes experience

By Lesley Rogers

Incumbent 4th Ward Alderman Rita Tewksbury plans to utilize her 15 years of experience to bring positive changes to the people of DeKalb if re-elected April 20.

Tewksbury said most people are unaware of the responsibilities of an alderman. “You take care of whatever ward you represent. If there’s street, sewer problems, flooding, then it’s your job to convince the other sects that you need the funding to take care of your problems.”

Tewksbury has been at her post for the past 15 years, while holding the job of assistant vice president of a savings and loan.

“It’s sort of a group (city council) that gets together and helps each other out with the funding that is available,” Tewksbury said.

“Apparently, the people have been extremely satisfied with the way I have represented the ward because the last two terms I was unopposed,” Tewksbury said.

Tewksbury enjoys her job as alderman of the 4th Ward and entered the office 15 years ago with a positive attitude toward change.

“I don’t really consider being on the council a political job. I think in my own estimation it’s more of a job directing the city so that you can help your neighbors and the people of DeKalb,” Tewksbury said.

One of Tewksbury’s priorities is to try to bring new industries to DeKalb. “New businesses are important so people will have jobs, feed their families and can afford a home of their own,” she said. “All of these things have been a priority all the time I’ve been on the council.”

The 4th Ward boundaries go from the northwestern railroad tracks up to Fourth Street to Peace Road, Fairview Drive and to the east side of First Street.

Tewksbury’s duties also include monitoring the city streets and plumbing. She used the example of the bad flooding problem the 4th Ward had on East Lincoln Highway. For 20 years, the residents suffered terrible flooding in their basements every time there was a rainstorm.

“I got a million and a half bond issue and we took care of the flooding, put in all new sewers and put in a retention pond that is now called a park. Since we accomplished that, there has been no flooding. Not a drop,” Tewksbury said.

Tewksbury was also the driving force that fixed the streets in the 4th Ward. Still under construction are the brick streets, which are located in a historically preserved region of DeKalb. Tewksbury allocated $400,000 for the project to maintain the streets.

“The major problems that I had in the ward when I took office have more or less been taken care of,” Tewksbury said.

As the incumbent, Tewksbury feels she has an edge over her opponent, Laurel Roff, because of her 15 years of experience. “Up there you need all the experience you can get,” Tewksbury said. “Once you’ve been there a while, you can go back to your knowledge of previous experiences and remember how you handled the situation and what you could do to make the project go through.”