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Our view: Will County slips away from GOP

Updated: December 19, 2012 12:06PM



Will County was a Republican bastion for decades, but that’s changed gradually during the past couple as Democrats captured a few, then most, of the countywide offices.

But the GOP always could pride itself with its clear control of the 27-member county board. Not any more. The Republican majority that had been slipping (at 16-11 heading into the election) appears gone — a 13-13 split (one seat might change, though unlikely) under a realigned board, with County Executive Larry Walsh, a Democrat, having the tie-breaking vote.

Nine Republican and two Democratic incumbents weren’t on the ballot, so a different blend seemed likely, but Republicans were confident they’d keep control. The situation is more problematic for the forest preserve district board (same members as the county board) where Walsh cannot break a tie.

We have to wonder why 26 board members. That’s at least 11 more than necessary (Cook County, with its much greater population, has 17). Why create the possibility of a tie vote? Why not one member per district rather than two? We guess going from 27 to 13 was too radical a change.

But we digress. Will County reflects the deepening blueness of Illinois. Chicago, of course, has been a Democratic fortress but was offset by the “red” ring counties and a red downstate. The Democrats’ control of redistricting and growing black and Hispanic populations in the suburbs has changed that for the foreseeable future.

Each political party must earn its place. Citizens owe no loyalty based on traditional affiliation. But a two-party system works effectively only if there are two voices that reflect competing ideas. Illinois has enough evidence of what one-party control can produce — a financial and ethical mess.

Whether you believe the Democrats are solely responsible or Republicans earn scorn for failing to mount a suitable challenge is an arguable point. But the more that one party runs government, the less likely that compromise and shared values can prevail. Even when demographics shift against a political party, it’s hard to fight fate.



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