Dems to keep control of new county board
URBANA — The new-look Champaign County Board will remain in Democratic hands by a 12-10 margin following Tuesday's voting.
Only three of 11 county board districts had contested races Tuesday, and in each of the three districts the anticipated majority party won both seats. When the new 22-member county board is seated in December, Democrats will hold a two-vote margin. The current 27-member board has a 15-12 Democratic majority.
In District 1 in northwest Champaign County, Republicans John Jay and Gary Maxwell defeated Democratic challengers Eric Thorsland and Eugenia Lamb Watson. With 92 percent of the vote counted, Jay had 4,838 votes and Maxwell had 4,375. Thorsland was third with 1,874 votes and Watson had 1,362.
In District 5, which includes areas of northwest Champaign as well as rural areas west of the city, Republicans Jeff Kibler and Max Mitchell defeated Democrats Brad Diel and Tracy Luchik. Kibler had 3,913 votes and Mitchell had 3,546. Diel was third with 3,175 and Luchik had 2,455.
And in District 8, which covers a large section of central Champaign-Urbana, generally from Lincoln Avenue in Urbana to Prospect Avenue in Champaign between West Vine Street in Champaign and Nevada Street in Urbana, incumbent Democrats Giraldo Rosales and Michael Richards easily defeated Republican Sher Hampel. Richards had 1,863 votes, Rosales had 1,358 and Hampel trailed with 775.
In the other eight county board districts — three dominated by Republicans and five by Democrats — there were no races.
The new county board will be smaller than the current one, going from 27 members to 22. And it won't include nine current members who either chose not to run for re-election or were defeated in the March primary election.
The nine retirees include five Democrats — board chair C. Pius Weibel, vice chair Tom Betz, and Carol Ammons, Janet Anderson and Brendan McGinty — plus four Republicans, former board chair Steve Moser, Stephanie Holderfield, Ron Bensyl and Stanley "Steve" O'Connor.
Board members will choose a new county board chair to replace Weibel at their reorganizational meeting on Dec. 3. Since Democrats are the majority party, the new board chair likely will be a Democrat. They have been the board's majority party since December 2000.