News Local/State

Democrats Slate Hartke To Chair Champaign Co. Bd.


Local Democrats have slated Josh Hartke of Champaign to chair the Champaign County Board, when the board holds its organizational meeting on December 1st.

Democrat caucusing Sunday night selected Hartke as their choice for chairman in a 9-to-3 vote over Pattsi Petrie. Pius Weibel had been expected to seek the post, but withdrew at the last minute. Weibel is a former county board chairman who left the county board in 2012, but was elected to a new term in November.

Hartke seeks to succeed Alan Kurtz, who angered fellow Democrats by lining up backing from Republicans, plus two Democrats, to win the chairmanship in 2012. Hartke was defeated by Pius Weibel in the Democratic primary earlier this year.

Hartke says he wants to keep Democrats united in their leadership on the county board, but also work with Republicans. He says he's already reached out to Republican caucus chairman John Jay.

"I think we can find the common ground to lead this board forward", said Kurtz. "There will be a Democrat as chairman, most likely, on this board. And I think I’m the kind that can lead by representing everyone in this county."

Hartke says he expects the big issues facing the Champaign County Board next year to be jail renovations, quality of care at the county nursing home, and county finances.

Hartke is halfway through his first term on the Champaign County Board. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress as the Democratic challenger to Tim Johnson in 2002.

Democrats will maintain their 12-to-10 majority on the Champaign County Board, when new members are sworn in next month.