Republicans sweep into four Champaign County offices
URBANA — Republicans swept all four contested countywide races in Champaign County on Tuesday, claiming the auditor's office for the first time in more than three decades.
By narrow margins, voters elected John Farney and Katie Blakeman as auditor and circuit clerk, respectively.
County Clerk Gordy Hulten and Recorder Barb Frasca were returned to office by broader margins.
State's Attorney Julia Rietz, a Democrat, and Coroner Duane Northrup, a Republican, were re-elected without opposition in the election.
With 115 of 118 precincts reporting, Farney was leading Democrat George Danos 51 percent to 49 percent, with 1,658 votes separating the candidates. Farney has been an employee in the Champaign County clerk's office since 2007. He will succeed Tony Fabri, the Democratic incumbent who had been widely criticized for not spending enough time in his office.
Blakeman was leading Democrat Barbara Wysocki 51 percent to 49 percent, with a 943-vote advantage. Blakeman, a stay-at-home mom who was previously a fundraiser in the University of Illinois Division of Student Affairs, was making her first run for office. She will succeed Republican Linda Frank, who is retiring.
Hulten, who was appointed county clerk after Mark Shelden resigned, fought back a challenge from Democrat Charlie Smyth. Hulten had 54 percent of the vote to Smyth's 46 percent.
Both candidates had city council experience, with Hulten having served on the Champaign council and Smyth on the Urbana council.
Frasca was leading Democrat D'Anne Winston 58 percent to 42 percent. It will be Frasca's fifth term as recorder, having first been elected to the post in 1996.
Frasca said she thought her experience helped in the campaign. She said her biggest priority is moving the rest of the office from microfilm to digitized images — something she called "an expensive and time-consuming project."
She said she hasn't ruled out seeking a sixth term, but admitted "it will be tempting next time to think about stepping down."
Winston, a part-time employee at the UI, formerly worked as a clerk in the recorder's office. She said she wouldn't have changed anything about her campaign.
"I think I ran a good race, had a good message," she said. "I'm still committed to being a public servant. I don't know if this will be my last race."
Hulten was not available for comment while vote totals were still coming in.
Smyth said he enjoyed the campaign but admitted it was an uphill battle.
"You're running against an incumbent who gets his name everywhere. It's not a level playing field. It's always tough to run against an incumbent," Smyth said.
Nevertheless, he said, "It was an honor to run. I've learned a great deal and enjoyed it a great deal. The bottom line is, I look forward to a day when every eligible voter can vote."
Wysocki, who was edged out in the circuit clerk's race, is a former Champaign County Board chairwoman and a retired high school history teacher.
Danos, who narrowly lost his bid for the auditor's office, is a substitute teacher and former financial analyst who was making his first run for office.