Two of four incumbents ousted in county board races
URBANA — Democrats selected C. Pius Weibel, Shana Jo Harrison, Lorraine Cowart and Pattsi Petrie as their choices for seats on the Champaign County Board.
In the battle of once and current board chairmen, Weibel, the former chairman, defeated his successor to the seat, Alan Kurtz, 504 votes to 306, in District 7.
Weibel said he was surprised about his wide margin of victory.
"I thought it was going to be a close race," he said. "... I guess people started listening to some of my points during the campaign. This is my first primary race, and now I am 1-for-1."
Weibel said he would do his best to represent the Democrats in the general election. He'll face Republican Tom Grey in November.
"If I am elected, deciding what to do with the jail is our biggest issue," he said.
In one of the closer races on primary election day, Harrison, a former president of the campus Illini Democrats, defeated incumbent Ralph Langenheim by 25 votes, 437 to 412, in District 9.
"It was close, but I'll take it," Harrison said Tuesday. "I am really excited to help represent Champaign County residents from my district, both in Savoy and Urbana. I really appreciate all the support I received, especially from the building trades. They were really helpful in giving me the support I needed to win."
Harrison saluted her opponent.
"He sat on the board for quite some time, and I can learn a lot from him," she said.
Langenheim said he doubts if he will ask for a recount.
"I am disappointed, after serving on the county board for some 16 years," he said. "I thought I was going to win, but I wasn't sure.
"I thank those voters who did support me. I commend all my followers and condemn all my opponents."
Petrie, a one-term incumbent, defeated former Champaign County Auditor Tony Fabri 887 to 259 in District 6.
"Pattsi ran a really good campaign, and a lot of voters know her," Fabri said. "I think the people decided to go behind someone they have known and liked for awhile.
"I have no problem supporting her in November, and I look forward to helping her in any way that I can."
Petrie could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. In November, she will face Republican Dan Jackson.
In District 11, Cowart defeated Brent West, 672-125.
"I was kind of surprised by my margin of victory because I didn't have money to pay for campaign literature," Cowart said. "I appreciate the voters putting me in for the general election, and I hope that those who voted for me today will vote for me again in November."
She said her top goals for the next term, if elected, would be reaching a decision on renovating the downtown jail, making the county nursing home self-sufficient and taking a look at minority hiring by the county.
West could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.