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Bible win ushers in new era for Will County Democrats

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Updated: November 20, 2012 11:17PM



Democrat Reed Bible’s Will County Board victory after Tuesday’s final vote count will usher in a new era of politics in Will County with Democrats more in charge than they have been in 32 years.

Bible was a little in shock and Republican incumbent John Argoudelis was on the verge of tears after the final total showed Bible won the hotly contested District 5 race.

Democrats will have the county board majority for the first time since 1980. The board is tied at 13-13 for each party, but Will County Exective Larry Walsh, a Democrat, can cast tie-breaking votes, which gives Democrats the edge.

“I’m obviously thrilled,” said Bible, 58, who is a retired criminal investigator for Homeland Security. “ ... It’s been exhausting and I’m a little stunned. It will sink in probably in a couple of hours that I’ve won.”

Argoudelis, who has been on the board for two years and also serves as Plainfield Township supervisor, said he was disappointed with his loss.

Because the party is tied, Argoudelis said he thinks there will be more pressure on members to vote along party lines than there had been in the past with a 16-11 Republican majority.

“I think that’s sad,” he said. “I think that’s what’s wrong with politics.”

Election night surprise

The roller coaster race had Argoudelis ahead on election night. In an election night surprise, Bible jumped ahead by 247 votes when the Aurora portion of Will County was counted separately by the Aurora Election Commission.

Even then the race wasn’t over. Final absentee, grace period and provisional votes counted Monday in Aurora put Bible up by 500. After the same types of votes were counted Tuesday by 21 teams of bi-partisan judges at the Will County Office Building, Bible’s lead grew to 634.

The final unofficial vote total was 8,576 for Bible and 7,942 for Argoudelis. Incumbent Lee Ann Goodson, R-Plainfield, gained 683 votes on Tuesday for a final total of 8,957 votes. Only two candidates could be elected.

Scott Pyles, chairman of the Will County Democratic Party, said Bible’s victory means Democrats have a clear board majority. He likened it to the U.S. Senate. When the Senate is split 50-50, the vice president is the tie-breaker and his party gets to elect a majority leader, Pyles explained.

Will County Board Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort Township, who has held the board’s top spot for 12 years, isn’t so sure. He thinks the Will County Board’s executive form of government, the only one of its kind in the state, is more like state government where the county executive would act as a governor. Walsh shouldn’t be voting on county board leadership decisions or rules because he’s not a member of the board, Moustis said.

Legal opinion due Wednesday

Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow will issue an opinion on the matter Wednesday morning, said Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Tatroe, who is chief of the office’s civil division. Glasgow didn’t want to comment until the issue was “ripe” and it was clear the Democrats had won their 13th seat, Tatroe explained.

Moustis said if he disagrees with Glasgow’s opinion, he will seek a second legal opinion. If that doesn’t go in his party’s favor, Moustis said he would probably drop the issue and run for Republican leader on the board.

Democrats have already decided they will nominate the Rev. Herb Brooks Jr. of Joliet as their choice for board chairman during the Dec. 3 reorganizational meeting. Diane Seiler-Zigrossi of Lockport would be nominated as majority leader.

It seems Democrats would get their picks approved, unless all 13 Republicans failed to show for a meeting. That would prevent the 14-member quorum necessary to conduct business, Moustis has said.

That strategy is not unheard of. Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature fled their state to prevent a quorum during a bitter budget battle in February 2011. Other legislators have employed the tactic around the nation for years. President Abraham Lincoln took an even more drastic action.

In 1839, Lincoln and two other Whigs climbed out ground-floor window when they saw Illinois House Democrats re-convening, according to James Cornelius, curator of our the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

“But their quick exit didn’t do any good,” Cornelius said. “The sergeant at arms ruled that a quorum existed before they left, so the Whigs lost the vote.”



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