Tie-breaking power puts Democrats in majority
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org November 21, 2012 2:02PM
Updated: December 24, 2012 7:06AM
If the Will County Board gets into a tie vote on an issue, the Democratic county executive will be able to cast the tie-breaking vote, according to an opinion issued by the state’s attorney Wednesday.
The issue came up recently after the board ended up with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans after the November election, but Democrat Larry Walsh as county executive gives his party the edge.
Scott Pyles, chairman of the Will County Democratic Party, agreed with that. He likened the situation 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, wasn’t so sure. He said the 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 board leadership decisions or rules because he’s not a member of the board, Moustis said.
But Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said Walsh would have the authority to break a tie.
The law clearly allows the county executive to break tie votes without exception, as well as veto ordinances, resolutions and motions, Glasgow’s opinion states.
Moustis could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
“We’re ready to work together with everybody. We want to move Will County forward. That’s always been Larry’s goal,” said Nick Palmer, Walsh’s chief of staff. “This hopefully clarifies some of the questions about whether he can break a tie or not.”
Democrats plan to nominate the Rev. Herb Brooks Jr., Joliet, for board leader during the Dec. 3 reorganizational meeting.
Brooks said Wednesday he and fellow Democrats believed all along that Walsh would be able to break a tie vote, should one arise.
“Mr. Glasgow is the expert,” Brooks said. “It does help to have a legal opinion now.”
For a while on election night, it looked like Republican John Argoudelis would beat Democrat Reed Bible for the District 5 seat.
Democrats learned they had the majority for the first time in more than 30 years after final absentee, grace period and provisional votes counted Monday in Aurora Bible up on Republican Argoudelis by 500.
After the same types of votes were counted Tuesday by 21 teams of bipartisan 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.