Whose lucky 13? Will County Board split between Dems and GOP
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org November 7, 2012 8:24PM
Voter turnout was 65.12 percent, up from 52.41 percent two years ago but down from 76.14 percent in 2008.
Tuesday night vote totals were delayed slightly when election judges from Joliet Precinct 29, the final precinct to report, failed to bring their optical scanner machine to the county clerk’s office. The judges had to return to their polling place, St. Mary Magdalene on Briggs Street, to get the scanner. But the church was locked and a priest had to come and open the door. “We had the sheriff’s deputy take them over to make it quicker,” County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said.
Vote totals won’t be official until after absentee votes postmarked by midnight Monday and grace period votes are counted on Nov. 20. Provisional votes will be researched at that time, too, by bipartisan teams to see if the voters should have been allowed to vote at particular precincts.
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:27PM
Thirteen may prove to be a lucky number for Democrats on the Will County Board.
After being in the minority for the past several decades, and at a 16-11 disadvantage the past few years, Democrats scored a 13-13 tie with Republicans after Tuesday’s election.
If the election results stick, Democrats would have the edge after the new board is sworn
in Dec. 3 because Democrat Larry Walsh was re-elected as county executive. He would be the tie-breaker for 13-13 board votes.
“We’re in uncharted territory here,” said Minority Leader Walter Adamic, D-Joliet. “As far as I can remember, this has never happened. We’ve never had a tie.”
The entire county board was up for re-election this year because of post-census redistricting. During the process, board members agreed to reduce the size of the board from 27 to 26.
County Board Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort Square, said he knew a tie was mathematically possible, but he thought it would be unlikely.
“You’d think there would be a majority one way or another,” he said.
Adamic is glad the numbers worked out for his party.
“That potential was there and by golly it happened,” Adamic said. “It means we’re going to have a little fun. ... It feels good to kind of be on an even keel.”
Nine Republican and two Democratic incumbents weren’t on the ballot for a variety of reasons, so there were bound to be a lot of new faces and a change in the party split. But when Moustis turned off his computer at 1 a.m. Wednesday, he thought he had a 14-12 majority.
After votes from seven Will County precincts in the city of Aurora were added to vote totals for District 5, Republican incumbent John Argoudelis of Plainfield was out and Democrat Reed Bible of Plainfield was in, which created the 13-13 board split.
On Nov. 20, County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots’ office will count several thousand provisional, grace period and absentee votes, so that could change the final election results and Republicans could have the majority once again. Bible beat Argoudelis by 227 votes.
Democrats believe the victory will survive the final vote count; Republicans don’t.
Effect of even split
If the 13-13 tie stands, it will affect how the board creates committees and elects board leaders. Moustis, who has been on the board 20 years and chairman for 12, said the board will make the new split work.
“We’ll have to equally share the perceived authority,” he said.
Adamic said voters are tired of the extreme partisanship at the national level. So they certainly don’t want to see it start at the county level, he added.
“People need to work together on the board and I think we do it for the most part.”
The first couple of tests could come when the new board is sworn in on Dec. 3 and it voteson its rules and members vote for a chairman. Moustis said he would like another two-year term as chairman. Adamic wasn’t sure if he’d toss his hat into the ring.
“Obviously, this is still brand new and we’re all tired,” Adamic said as he retrieved his campaign yard signs.