Mike Watson

Mike Watson

BRADLEY — Bradley Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson will soon remove the “pro tem” title from his village position.

Watson, Bradley’s mayor pro tem since the spring 2019 following the resignation of then-Mayor Bruce Adams, has been elected mayor of the village, defeating former village trustee Lori Gadbois and Gene Jordan in a three-way contest.

Watson claimed 66 percent of the vote, garnering 1,304 votes, easily outpacing Gadbois by a 2-1 margin. Gadbois collected 600 votes, or 30 percent of the vote. Jordan, a Democrat, picked up just 4 percent (77) of the vote.

“The third time is apparently the charm,” Watson, 59, said about two hours after the polls closed Tuesday evening. Watson twice before — 2013 and 2017 — sought the Bradley mayoral post, but was defeated both times by Adams.

Running as the leader of the Progressive Citizens Party, Watson said he was not surprised by his margin of victory. He said being the mayor pro tem for the past two years certainly helped him establish himself with the voters.

“I was absolutely expecting victory. I was expecting a landslide and that was based on the conversations I was having with the voters. Basically, people are grateful with what we’ve been doing,” he said.

Watson has been on the village board since 2015. He technically is still a village board member even though he serves as the mayor pro tem. A trustee will be appointed to fill Watson’s board seat once the new board is sworn into office at the board’s May 10 meeting.

Watson said his time in the mayor’s office elevated his presence with the voters.

“People got to see first-hand what our plan is,” he said. “Once I got there, I made changes and the rest is history. ... We devised a plan from nothing. It presented an opportunity for me to demonstrate what I can do, there was nothing to fear here with me.”

Gadbois, the Kankakee County recorder of deeds and a former 16-year Bradley trustee, said the low voter turnout certainly did not aid her cause.

“We spent a lot of time walking the village and the voters made their decision,” she said.

She said Watson’s advantage of holding the mayor’s office played a significant role.

Gadbois said Tuesday’s defeat doesn’t sting her, but it will sting the village residents at some point.

“I really hope the village residents pay close attention to what is happening,” she said.

While this was Watson’s first mayoral victory in Bradley, it wasn’t his first mayoral victory. Watson served as mayor of tiny Sammons Point — population 279 — in southern Kankakee County from 2006-12.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.