Pekin mayor reflects on tenure as he prepares to leave seat

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:46 PM CST
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PEKIN (25 News Now) - Pekin’s mayor has made it official: he will not run for the seat again, as three other candidates file to take over the position in the spring.

After serving eight years in local government, incumbent Mark Luft says that making the final decision to step down was a difficult one. It follows his time serving on the Pekin City Council, as mayor, and as a state representative. He says despite his work to bring good things to the community, the job has a tendency to take its toll. For Luft, it was time to look for other opportunities.

A lifelong Pekin resident, Luft was first elected to the Pekin City Council in April 2015, and was elected as mayor in 2019. He has overseen the city through the pandemic, the collapse of Reditus Labs, and various incidents within city government. Those include the censure of the former mayor pro tem after a sexual harassment investigation and the recent firing of city manager Mark Rothert, who which he attributes much of the success of his term to. Luft’s time in the Illinois General Assembly is also set to come to an end in January after losing in the June Republican primary.

Luft expresses confidence in the duties of those who worked alongside him, expressing that even after his departure, the city has the ability to move forward - with the right team.

“When I decided to run in ‘14 and came in in ‘15, I set a goal of where I want to see this community by the time I moved on. Not only did we reach that goal, but we exceeded it, which speaks a lot about the team we brought in.”

During the city manager replacement process, Luft told 25News the event would affect his decision on whether or not to run again.

So far, city council members Becky Cloyd and Dave Nutter have filed to run for mayor, along with Tazewell County Treasurer Mary Burress. Luft mentioned that there’s one candidate in particular that he will work hard to ensure gets elected, and that other candidates would be “a detriment to this community.”

Looking back, Luft says he’s confident with the state he’s leaving the city in. He adds if the right people stay in their positions within the government structure, the work started during his term will continue.

“Right now, Pekin is probably sitting in its peak for the first time in 30 or 40 years, and it’s taken a lot of work to do that,” he says.

Luft makes note that he will always be the city’s biggest cheerleader. Without the people of Pekin, he says, he wouldn’t have gotten to where he is now. When asked what his biggest message to the community would be, Luft readily responded:

“Thank you so much for all the support that you gave me, and to reassure them that we’re going to continue to be okay, because I’m always going to be here.”

Candidates have six days left to file. The election is in April, with a primary in February if there are more than three candidates.

To hear from those who have filed this week, you can read our story from Monday by clicking the link here.