Illinois Public Media News
Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said campaigning for re-election was more time-consuming this year, because he had an opponent for the first time. Still, the Republican incumbent easily won re-election to a third term on Tuesday. He received 85.5 percent of the vote against independent write-in candidate Jerommie Smith.
Smith, a former sheriff's deputy, campaigned on a theme of improving the fiscal management of the sheriff's office, but Walsh contended that he has already done a good job adjusting to a tight county budget while continue to provide law enforcement.
"We save the taxpayers a lot of money, in how we do everything from the gasoline to the prisoner medical bills," Walsh said. "The Electronic Detention Program --- if we didn't have that, I would have run out of food money a couple of months ago. So we've saved a lot of money, we've operated well within our budget, despite the cutbacks. It's been tough, but we've been able to do it."
The Electronic Detention Program puts non-violent offenders on home detention --- monitored through an electronic ankle bracelet. Walsh said the program is cheaper than housing those offenders at the county jail.
Meanwhile, Smith said he still worries that tight finances in Champaign County could affect the number of deputies or level of service at the sheriff's department. He said he will review his performance as a write-in candidate, and decide if it might be worth running again in 2014 --- if he can get his name on the ballot next time.
Cook County officials are still counting ballots in the neck-and-neck race for Illinois governor, but whether there are enough that favor Republican Bill Brady to put him over the top is in question.
It will likely be a month before Illinois finds out who won Tuesday's gubernatorial race. Brady currently trails incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn by about 8,300 votes. At a Press Conference in Bloomington, Brady told reporters he is waiting for all the ballots to be counted and certified by the State Election Board.
"Our campaign continues to wait for the results," Brady said, noting that the difference between him and Quinn is less than one vote per precinct. "We believe we will win."
There are a total of 16,500 military ballots that have not been counted, including just over 28,000 that went out late from 36 counties.
As more precincts' returns roll in this week, Burt Odelson, an attorney for Quinn's campaign, said Tuesday night that he will monitor the incoming figures.
"There not enough votes down state to make up the difference between what's left in Cook County and what's left downstate," Odelson said. "So Pat Quinn's going to win the election."
Once all votes are counted, the State Board of Elections must certify the results.
The loser in this gubernatorial race can then ask for a "discovery recount" enabling him to check over a quarter of the ballots in each jurisdiction. If the candidate believes it is warranted, he may contest the election.
Some experts say absentee ballots could tip the scales. As long as they were postmarked on time, officials have extra days to factor in those ballots.
(Photos by Jeff Bossert/WILL and Sean Powers/WILL)
Voters in Illinois' 101st House District will have a new state representative in January. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) narrowly defeated incumbent Bob Flider (D-Mt. Zion) in Tuesday's general election with 51 percent of the votes.
The rancorous and expensive race left both parties pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns. Flider, who has held the seat for four terms, said like many candidates across the country, he was swept away by anti-incumbent fever.
"You know, the combination of throw them out mentality, combined with the high Republican turnout," Flider said. "I think that was very difficult to overcome."
Betty Hughes of Decatur said her vote against Flider was a vote for change in Springfield and Washington. She said she hopes voter cynicism towards incumbents will have a ripple effect on the legislative process.
"I think the state of Illinois needs to clean their house," Hughes said. "I hope we're sending a message to the federal government and the state government that we need a change."
Hughes explained that the federal government should do more to stem the nation's unemployment rate, and re-examine the cost of the federal health care law.
The change many voters were calling for this election year translated into a lot of negative advertising in the 101st House District race, which could be seen all over Central Illinois. Decatur trial lawyer William Faber, who supported Flider, said this sort of mudslinging is typical with any campaign. However, Faber said there should have been strict limits on the amount of negative advertisements coming from both campaigns. He feared voters were swayed by the rhetoric, and missed out on important issues.
"The politicians are unwilling to put limits on things in terms of time and money," he said. "The people complain, but don't put any pressure on the politicians to change things."
For Brown, who currently sits on the Decatur City Council, the victory was bittersweet. He has portrayed himself as a new fresh face who will distance himself from the tight grip of Chicago politics. Still, the 25-year-old Republican faces yet another challenge --- getting his voice heard a state legislature that continues to be controlled by a Democratic majority.
"You know, we got to stand up to Mike Madigan," Brown said. "I don't believe Central Illinois values align with the Chicago machine's values, so it's going to be a tough process."
Decatur is a manufacturing town that has been plagued with job losses from the Firestone plant closing to the recent decision by the Tate and Lyle company to move jobs out of Decatur.
Brown said he plans to stand up to Speaker Michael Madigan to push forward his plans to create jobs in Decatur and reform workers' compensation and lawsuit abuse.
Brown is up for re-election is 2012.
(Photos by Sean Powers/WILL)
The race for Illinois governor is still up in the air. Republican State Senator Bill Brady ended election night trailing Democrat Pat Quinn by about 8300 votes. But he did not concede the race.
"Some of you may have realized by now I have a penchant for close elections", said Brady jokingly. That's a reference to his Republican primary win over State Senator Kirk Dillard - which came down to just about 100 votes. Plus, in his first campaign win, Brady defeated longtime incumbent Gordon Ropp in the 1002 GOP Illinois House primary by just eight votes.
Brady campaign spokeswoman Patty Schuh says they want to ensure that every ballot is counted. She says there's still absentee ballots to count - in addition to others that weren't reported late Tuesday night
Burt Odelson is the attorney for Quinn's campaign. He said Tuesday night that he'll monitor the incoming figures. But he said then ... when 11 thousand votes separated the leading candidates .... he considered the race over.
"There not enough votes down state to make up the difference between what's left in Cook County and what's left downstate", says Odelson. "So Pat Quinn's going to win the election."
Once all votes are counted, the Illinois State Board of Elections must certify the results.
At that point ... the loser can ask for a "discovery recount." That enables him to check over a quarter of the ballots in each jurisdiction. If the candidate believes it's warranted, he may contest the election.
Republican Congressman Mark Kirk won the race for Barack Obama's old Senate seat. That seat is currently held by Roland Burris.
The race was close for much of the evening so Kirk didn't hit the stage until midnight. He told his supporters they had voted for fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and bringing down the deficit, saying the Republican victory changes both national and state politics.
"We saw dark days surrounding this Senate seat," Kirk told supporters. "Blagojevich tried to sell it. Democrats blocked a special election to fill it, but tonight the sun set on a one party corrupt state."
Kirk says he's anxious to take office, something he'll get to do almost immediately. He won't have to wait until January like other newly elected Senators because he also won the court ordered special election on the ballot yesterday.
One of the incumbent state senators says Democrats will be willing to let Republicans make suggestions on ways to straighten out Illinois' budget, but wholesale cuts shouldn't be in the equation.
Senator Mike Frerichs won a third term over Republican Al Reynolds, a former tea party organizer. But legislative Democrats will have to work with a smaller majority after GOP wins elsewhere in the state. Frerichs says for the Republicans, having a larger minority should bring more accountability.
"In the past you've had one party sitting on the sideline saying 'it's your responsibility, you make those cuts, we're not interested in being involved,'" said Frerichs. "Now is the real time for bipartisanship. After the election and the next election a couple of years off, maybe these people will be willing to work together."
Frerichs says no one likes to see tax increase or spending cuts, but he says both will be needed to resolve the state's deep debt.
Rejoining Frerichs in the state Senate will be 55th district Republican Dale Righter, who easily fended off a challenge from Josh Weger.
Election night was a good one for legislative incumbents in east-central Illinois as well as one candidate who had a longtime legislator's seal of approval.
Republican Chad Hays will replace retiring state Representative Bill Black next year after beating Democrat Michael Puhr. Hays is a hospital administrator and former mayor of Catlin - he had received campaign assistance from Black.
Democrat Naomi Jakobsson will go to Springfield for a fifth term after beating Norm Davis. The former social service executive says services to people with disabilities or mental illness should not meet the budget knife.
"These cut across all parts of our population," said Jakobsson. "It's very important that we make these services available. These are some of things that I want to make sure we're able to do, and that's going to take some people really putting their votes on the line."
In the 110th district, Republican Chapin Rose racked up one of the largest winning margins in Illinois with a win over Dennis Malak.
"A major message has been sent to people who think you can continue to borrow your way out of this problem, and there's been a major message sent to people whose first option is to run and raise taxes," said Rose. "All across the country, the message has been, 'you've got to get your fiscal house in order.'"
Shane Cultra easily defeated Green Party candidate Vince LaMie in the 105th.
Urbana Congressman Tim Johnson will serve a sixth term after besting Democrat David Gill for a third time.
The Republican Johnson says he'll continue to strive for a limited government, a free-market economy, and cutting through the bureaucracy of agencies like the Veterans Administration. He still wants to repeal the health care reform bill. But with the Democrats still in control in the US Senate, Johnson says it won't be an absolute repeal.
"But I think we can work to make some constructive changes and were funding is relevant, to limit funding to that," said Johnson. "So my hope is that we'll be able to bring some more sense to a health care system, or at least a health care bill that's out of control." Gill, an emergency room physician, calls that kind of talk 'politicking'. He likes parts of the package, but says it needs some re-crafting.
Johnson finished with 64-percent of the vote to Gill's 35-percent. Gill says this loss is disappointing for the people. He says elected winners on each side of the political aisle are failing to compromise, and that proves there's something wrong with our government. "Maybe eventually there will be enough pain for voters that they'll understand that they need to look beyond the 'D' and the 'R' and find out who's funding the different candidates," said Gill. "And maybe then they'll start supporting those who are interested in accomplishing good things for people."
Gill has described himself as an independent-minded Democrat, but says he may consider a true independent campaign for Congress in the future - calling it the fastest-growing part of the electorate.
Champaign County clerk Mark Shelden said he expects a near-record turnout by the time polls close Tuesday night.
Shelden said he thinks more than 55,000 voters will make it to the polls, which is well above the 2002 record for a non-presidential election year. By contrast, Shelden said more than 84,000 Champaign County residents voted in the 2008 presidential race.
"We had to bring a few ballots out to places, especially federal only ballots," Shelden said. "I think we're seeing kind of a significant uptick in those ballots, and those are people who didn't get their addresses updated in time."
Election judges at two Champaign polling sites report that there has been a steady stream of voters coming in throughout the day. About 400 people cast their ballots by Tuesday afternoon at St. John's Lutheran Church. At the McKinley Foundation, things were slower, as they often are for Campustown polling sites. Still, more than 40 came in by late morning while as many as four had to wait in line.
At The Church of Christ on Philo Road, voter Melanie Kruger said she rarely misses an election, and used this one to take some frustration out on incumbents by choosing third-party candidates in some races.
"I'm just tired of people getting into the office, and then seeming to put priority on their party rather than on their constituents," Kruger said. "I don't know how else to protest."
Shelden said more than 6,000 votes were cast well before Tuesday's opening of the polls, and he said a few more absentee ballots will trickle in over the next few days. He added that there have been few minor problems at a couple of Champaign County polling places with tabulators, but he said those problems were eventually resolved with no effect on voting.
(Photo by Jeff Bossert/WILL)
The University of Illinois' Urbana Faculty Senate has unanimously rejected administrative changes proposed by President Michael Hogan.
In a written three page statement, the Senate reported that plans to add a vice president, new duties for some administrators, and change titles for others simply have too many unanswered questions. However, Senate Executive Committee Chair Joyce Tolliver said U of I Trustees have been encouraged to refine the proposals, and discuss them further with campus Senators. Tolliver said one key area of concern is money, especially when the U of I's fiscal situation is dire.
"We are told that this is an investment we should make," Tolliver said. "That is probably true. I think some of us accept that logic, but many of us on the campus are very worried about where the money is going to come from in order to create new positions, and in order to do searches for re-defined existing positions."
Tolliver said the entire process for whatever changes occur needs to be slowed down.
"We were given an extraordinary tight time frame to respond to the proposed changes to the University administration," she said. "There are still entire areas in which we have asked for more information, and haven't been addressed."
A capacity crowd rejected President Hogan's plan at the Senate's regular meeting on Monday. The Senate's executive committee will send a much longer version of its statement to the Senates Conference, which is made up of elected officials from all three U of I campus Senates. That group will forward that document, along with its own advice on the proposed changes, onto the U of I Board of Trustees. Tolliver said the Senate is not afraid of change, but would like to seek out new ways to accomplish these goals.
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