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La Salle election judge Jerry Reynolds posts results for La Salle precincts 1 and 2 in Robert Hughett Towers after the election polls closed Tuesday night. La Salle and Bureau county clerks both were pleased with Tuesday’s voter turnout, which crested 30 percent. Mayoral races in Peru and Spring Valley, as well as the Hall High School referendum, were credited for generating voter interest and exceeding modest expectations.
Spring Valley voters were expected to storm the polls Tuesday to vote for a mayor and to consider whether to build a new Hall High School. Storm the polls they did. Bureau County clerk Kami Hieronymus reported Hall Township voted consistently and in force, posting turnout 45 percent to 55 percent in each precinct — excellent numbers for a spring election. The highest turnout in Hall Township was the Dalzell precinct, Hall precinct 7, which posted 61 percent. The Spring Valley/Hall contests helped lift overall turnout in Bureau County to about 35 percent, higher than what Hieronymus thought it would be. “There was some good turnout in outlying townships,” Hieronymus said, citing Gold Township’s 67 percent (highest in Bureau County) and 50 percent and 52 percent in Berlin and Bureau townships, respective. “There were township races throughout the county that made the difference in turnout.” The big action was in Hall Township, however, where the proposition for a new high school marginally won Tuesday night by three votes. There are still 21 absentee ballots not yet returned — valid if postmarked by April 9 — and any stragglers will be counted by April 24. Turnout was weaker in Princeton, where turnout averaged 20 percent. Hieronymus said that is about low to average for this type of election, which involved commissioner and school board seats. In La Salle County, Scott Harl’s re-election win sent nearly half of Peru’s registered voters to the polls Tuesday and lifted the county’s overall turnout past the 30-percent mark. That came as a pleasant surprise to county clerk JoAnn Carretto, who correctly anticipated hot poll activity in Peru but still bet conservatively and predicted countywide turnout of no more than 22 percent. Instead, La Salle County finished with 30.46 percent voter turnout. That figure is significantly better than turnout from the past two spring elections. La Salle County posted 21.3 percent turnout in spring 2011, while the mayoral races of 2009 in Peru (Harl’s first win) and in Utica lifted turnout to 27.4 percent. Carretto admitted being pleasantly surprised by Tuesday’s numbers. “I was so happy to be proven wrong,” Carretto said. “I believe the (defeated) one-cent sales tax had an effect on turnout, and some of the townships had races that affected turnout.” Tuesday, a handful of reliably-voting rural precincts spurred that total, but clearly it was mayoral races in Peru and Utica that drove the numbers. Peru’s overall turnout came to 47.3 percent and four of its precincts cracked 50 percent, led by Peru precinct 8 with 58.9 percent. Harl emerged the clear winner in a four-way field for mayor, and the contest generated much interest. Utica was relatively busy, too, thanks to a mayoral challenge and five-way contest for village trustee that sent one incumbent packing. Though election judges in Utica expressed disappointment with a so-so early showing Tuesday, the village finished with 41.9 percent turnout. Carretto anticipated that outside those communities there would be little voter activity and here again she was correct. La Salle and Oglesby’s precincts delivered just 20 percent turnout and six precincts slipped into the mid-teens. The worst local showing was at La Salle precinct 1, which delivered 14.1 percent turnout — tied with a precinct near Lake Holiday for lowest in La Salle County. Marshall County clerk Melody Weber had predicted that 35 percent to 40 percent of the county’s 8,493 registered voters would cast a ballot. That number proved to be accurate, with a turnout of nearly 38 percent. The turnout in Henry, where there was a lot of interest in a mayoral race, helped boost the overall county turnout. Weber said the Henry 1 precinct had a turnout of approximately 55 percent, while the Henry 2 precinct had a turnout of nearly 52 percent. Putnam County Clerk Dan Kuhn wasn’t far off with his prediction of 36 percent. Voter turnout was actually 32.48 percent. An unusually low turnout in the Senachwine precinct brought the overall percentage down, Kuhn said. In the Senachwine precinct, which had no contested races, voter turnout was a paltry 12.77 percent. Other precincts fared better, with the highest being the McNabb precinct at 39.71 percent.