.COAL VALLEY -- Write-in candidate Emil Maslanka won the race for Coal Valley mayor, beating opponent Rick Lasek 461 votes to 246.
Current mayor Stan Engstrom decided not to seek re-election after 19 years at the helm.
Rock Island County Chief Deputy Clerk John Brown said he can't recall the last time a write-in candidate won in a competitive election.
"It's far and few between, and particularly with the margin for the write-in candidate and particularly with that name," said Mr. Brown. "But the spelling doesn't have to be correct. The judges go with intent, they don't take off for spelling."
Mr. Brown said the votes won't be official until after the provisional two-week period that allows for additional ballots postmarked by midnight this past Monday to be counted.
Mr. Maslanka conducted a highly visible campaign, with candidate signs in yard throughout town.
"It truly demonstrates the involvement of the community," he said Wednesday. "I'm deeply honored that the residents placed their confidence in me for the next four years. I will work diligently to earn their trust."
Mr. Maslanka said he strongly encourages everyone to attend and participate in village board meetings. He said his next step is to start building relationships with village staff and trustees and tackle any outstanding issues.
Mr. Lasek, who will remain a trustee, congratulated Mr. Maslanka on his win and wished him success. "I would also like to thank my supporters for all their help and would ask they continue to support Coal Valley and its new administration," he said.