Passing any tax increase in this economy was going to be a tough sell in La Salle County.
The 1-percent La Salle County School Facility Sales Tax hike actually did better than many thought, losing by a final vote of 21,000 (yes) to 24,604 (no).
Streator resident William Phelan created a Facebook page titled “Vote No on La Salle County Sales Tax” that reached more than 20,000 people.
Phelan said it was a “big hurdle to jump” for school districts to try and pass such a tax.
“For the most part, people feel taxed enough whether people say it’s for the kids or not,” he said.
Many school officials understood the economy would factor into the sales tax question, and in the end, weren’t necessarily unpleased by the results. After all, a second attempt could soon find itself on the ballot.
“It was our hope that it would pass, but it seems clear to me that a significant number of people were in support, just not enough,” said La Salle-Peru High School superintendent Steve Wrobleski. “The campaign committee will need to discuss how to proceed from here. We will continue to move forward.”
Race for Bureau County circuit clerk still to be determined
Although Mary Romanelli Dremann (R-Princeton) ended the night 97 votes ahead of Dawn Reglin (D-Wyanet), voters will have to wait another two weeks to hear official results. County clerk Kami Hieronymus still is waiting on 124 outstanding absentee ballots that had to be postmarked by Nov. 5 in order for the votes to count. Hieronymus said it could take up to 14 days for results to be final.
Both Dremann and Reglin spent their night at opposite ends of the courthouse watching results roll in, along with fellow candidates and supporters. Loud cheering could be heard either from one party or the other as winners of each precinct were shown.
Dremann led at the end of Election Night with 8112 votes compared to Reglin’s 8,015.
At the end of the night, Dremann said she had expected the race to be close and was feeling confident about her win.
Late-night comeback alters
La Salle County Board makeup
With nearly all of La Salle County tallied up, it appeared 14-year Republican incumbent Randy Freeman (R-Lostant) had lost his re-election bid to newcomer Gerry Senko, a Kangley Democrat.
But once the final nine precincts and absentee ballots were tabulated, Freeman won re-election and pushed the county board makeup into a Republican majority of 15-14. Currently, there are 12 Republicans and 17 Democrats on the board.
“I’m thankful, and it’s reenergizing,” Freeman said. “I was totally shocked and I’m thankful to my district.”
Freeman’s last-minute win has an ironic aspect. In 2006, La Salle County Landowners Association successfully placed on the ballot a referendum to make the county board chairman seat elected at-large, hoping to open an avenue for Republicans to gain a stronger hold on the county board.
The ballot measure passed then, so now that the county board has a Republican majority, the Republicans cannot name a county board chairman in place of current chairman Jerry Hicks (D-Marseilles) because of the referendum push by the Landowners in 2006.
By all accounts, Republicans likely would have named Freeman to the board chairman seat.
“Yeah, the chairman could have been me, but the current chairman is pretty good,” Freeman said.
As for a Republican majority, Freeman doesn’t expect to see any straight, votes along party lines.
“There’s a big slug of new board members so it will be interesting,” he said.
Other notable county board district winners include Streator Republicans Walter Roach Jr. and Mike Sheridan knocking off incumbent Democrats Don Jordan and Herman “Bones” Bruns, respectively. Newcomer Joe Oscepinski Jr. won big in a heavily Democrat-leaning Peru district over Republican Beth Giordano. And in the far northeast, incumbent Democrat Bob Greenwalt was unseated by former board member, Republican Allen Erbrederis by just 17 votes.
Also, incumbent Democrat Joe Panzica Jr. of Utica successfully withstood a challenge from Republican Tina Busch by just 25 votes.
Kids say the darnedest things…
“When does this get over?” 11-year-old James Mautino asked as he threw back his head and looked up at his dad, state Rep. Frank Mautino.
It was 7:30 p.m. and as Democrats started to pack the party room at Verucchi’s Ristorante in Spring Valley, it already had been a long day for the younger Mautino: He had helped make some of the 60,000 phone calls as part of the Bureau County Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort in the campaign’s final days.
What made the difference
Mike Kohr, a candidate for Bureau County Board district 18, brought his “lucky glass” to an election night party. The clear tumbler bearing a picture of John F. Kennedy was a gift from his grandmother, according to Kohr.
“She always told us grandkids, if it had not been for FDR and the Democrats, she and her kids would have starved to death,” he said. “…She always admonished us, to vote Republican was a mortal sin.”
Kohr won the race, with 278 votes, compared to Daniel Hyson’s 113.
Rural electricity aggregation
Rural La Salle County voters turned down a ballot proposal to have the county board retain an aggregator that would negotiate electric rates on their behalf. The vote was 6,713 to 7,779.
The proposal, which has been used by municipalities and groups of businesses to successfully purchase cheaper electricity rates on the open market, was likely turned down because of an on-going mistrust among rural residents and the county board.
Sales tax fails in two more counties
The school sales tax referendum was narrowly defeated in Marshall County.
Just over 51 percent, or 2,916 people, voted against the sales tax, while nearly 49 percent, or 2,790, voted in favor of it.
If the sales tax question had passed, schools in Marshall County – primarily Midland, Henry and Fieldcrest – would have received this source of revenue.
If the referendum had been approved, the Henry-Senachwine district would have gained approximately $125,000 per year, while Fieldcrest would have collected around $145,000. At nearly $240,000 a year, Midland stood to gain the most from the sales tax referendum. Other districts, such as Lowpoint-Washburn and Bradford, would have received smaller amounts of the sales tax money.
Fifty-eight percent of voters in Lee County also said “no” to the same type of 1-percent sales tax.
16th Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) of Channahon defeated challenger Wanda Rohl of rural Ottawa with roughly 62 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press.
“It’s a great night, but it’s humbling,” Kinzinger said from the Winnebago County GOP election party in Rockford.
Kinzinger entered this election after defeating long-time congressman Don Manzullo in a Republican primary race in March after that state’s congressional districts were redrawn. Along with being in campaign shape, Kinzinger also had considerably more financial backing than Rohl.
Rohl reminded listeners at a Democratic election party at Verucchi’s Ristorante, Spring Valley that the district was drawn as a “giveaway” for Republicans.
Considering the long odds going in, Rohl’s campaign staff was impressed with how well she did.
“I didn’t think the race would be as close as it is,” Rohl said.
“We deserve a voice,” she added, echoing the sentiment with which she had started the race.
Kinzinger said one of his takeaways from the night is that nationwide people are looking for bipartisan leadership in Washington D.C.
Kinzinger, Rohl by the $$$
Kinzinger won the race for 16th Congressional District with 177,621 votes compared to Rohl’s 109,954.
How much did that win cost?
Since April Kinzinger’s campaign has spent $297,257, according to the Federal Election Commission. That’s the equivalent of roughly $1.67 per vote.
Rohl’s campaign spent $45,941 or about 41 cents per vote.
The third party
Compared to Obama and Romney, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s results look paltry. Johnson brought in about 1.1 percent of the vote in Illinois, less than his five percent goal that would have made it easier to get a third party candidate on the next ballot. Who are those roughly 52,000 people in Illinois who voted for him?
One is La Salle businessman Steve Freeman.
Although a registered Republican, Freeman said he doesn’t vote a straight ticket and supports opening the election process up to third party candidates.
In the case of Johnson, Freeman said the former New Mexico governor may not be the most exciting candidate in the race, but “he’s got great ideas.”
“The two-party system is just terrible,” Freeman said.
BC prosecutor Herrmann re-elected to a fourth term
Incumbent Pat Herrmann (D-Spring Valley) held onto his seat with 9,361 votes compared to challenger Desirée Sierens’ (R-Marengo) 6,883 votes.
Both candidates spent their night watching results in the courthouse. Sierens sat with her husband as results rolled in on a computer. She kept Facebook followers updated on the results. Her last message on Facebook said, “ Herrmann won at 57.6% to my 42.4%. I want to thank all of you for your support. I am really proud of the race I ran, and I was happy to give Bureau County a choice when it came to its state’s attorney.”
Sierens isn’t sure whether or not she will run again in fours years, she said it’s a long way down the road and wants to wait to see where life takes her.
Coroner’s race: Wamhoff wins all county precincts, expect two and ties with one
Janice Wamhoff won Bureau County’s initial coroner’s race by a landslide and ended the night with 11,150 votes to Randy Grant’s 5,073 votes.
Wamhoff won in every precinct except two, which were Milo and Wyanet 2. She tied with Grant in Wheatland township.
At 8:53 p.m., Wamhoff spoke to Democrats gathered at Verucchi’s Ristorante in Spring Valley.
State Rep. Frank Mautino referred to her as “once of the strongest women I have ever known.”
“She has also run a great campaign and is doing very well - beating my numbers, by a lot,” Mautino said.
When results were final, Wamhoff was “ecstatic.”
Although she has served as coroner for the past 24 years, it was her first time campaigning for the newly-elected position. She said when it was brought up in 2010 that the county should elect its coroner she agreed it had to be done.
“As the year went on I kept asking myself, ‘why did I do this.’ But I knew in my heart it’s what needed to be done and I’m so grateful it turned out the way it did,” she said.
Bureau County Board Roundup
In District 15, incumbent Michael Maynard (D-Walnut) barely slid by with 275 votes to challenger Weldon Wilkinson’s (R-Walnut) 272 votes.
In more convincing fashion, in District 1, Robin Rediger (R-Buda) won with 439 votes to Richard Constantine’s (D-Sheffield) 171 votes; James Thompson (R-Sheffield) defeated Todd Ratliff (D-Sheffield) in District 17 and in District 18, incumbent Mike Kohr of rural Princeton defeated Daniel Hyson’s (R-DePue).
PC: Mack is back
Despite a strong challenger in Democrat Bradley Popurella, incumbent Putnam County State’s Attorney James Mack won re-election Tuesday.
The totals posted at the courthouse showed Mack winning 1,693 to 1,397.
Mack, who said he was “honored and humbled” by the support shown to him, said he will continue to work hard for just and fair results in court.
“I wish Mr. Popurella well,” he said.
Mack used the door-to-door method of campaigning, going to every community in the county.
A Hennepin resident, Mack performed particularly well in that area of the county, receiving 447 votes in the Hennepin precinct compared to Popurella’s 290 votes there. He also did well in the Senachwine precinct, earning 231 votes there, while Popurella received 110 votes.
Putnam County Board
All incumbents who ran for election on the Putnam County Board were re-elected. Those candidates included Chauntelle Biagi-Bruer, who earned 1,893 votes; Sheila Haage, who collected 1,921 votes; and board chairman, Duane Calbow, who received 1,732 votes.
Also elected were Jordan Ellena, who received 1,636 votes, and William Holmes, who with 1,940 earned the most votes of all the county board candidates.
Holmes, like many other candidates, watched the results trickle in at the courthouse. After winning, he said the first thing he’d like to tackle as a board member is bringing in more employers to the county.
Steven Malavolti, the sole Republican running for county board after Republican Matthew Leitch dropped out of the race because of a military extension, did not win a seat on the board. He was narrowly defeated, having collected 1,602 votes.
Despite Matthew Leitch’s announcement that he was dropping out of the county board race, he still collected a good share of votes, receiving 889. The Putnam County ballots already had been printed by the time Leitch said he would have to withdraw his name from consideration.