DANVILLE — With about 3,000 early votes still to count late Tuesday night, totals from all the votes cast on Tuesday had the Republicans taking majority control of the Vermilion County Board away from the Democrats.
If the results hold after all the early votes are tabulated, the Republicans gained two new seats and the power to decide who's the next county board chairman.
For the last several years, the Democrats had maintained the majority along with the chairman's seat, which has been held the last several years by Jim McMahon, D-District 9.
But recently the Democrats' majority had slipped to just one seat with 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans comprising the 27-member board. And all 27 seats were up for election this year, although 12 seats were uncontested. Those seats remain evenly split — six and six — between the Republicans and Democrats.
And the remaining 15 seats were contested with 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats vying for those openings.
But according to unofficial vote totals late Tuesday night, the Republicans won 15 of the 27 seats, tipping the majority their way.
In District 5, which includes Tilton and parts of Danville, Republican newcomer Bill Wright won one of three seats that had belonged to all Democrats. Longtime Democratic board member Orick "Corky" Nightlinger was still the top vote-getter in that district, but Wright finished second and incumbent John Criswell won the third seat, while incumbent Terry Wilkus lost out, finishing fourth.
In District 7, which includes Georgetown and parts of Westville, the Republicans gained another seat that had belonged to the Democrats, with Republican newcomer Cathy Jenkins finishing second behind Democrat incumbent Ed Barney. Democrat incumbent Terry Stal finished third, grabbing the final seat in that district, and Democrat incumbent Joe Tamalunis lost out, finishing fourth.
The newly elected board will be sworn in on Dec. 3 and will elect a new chairman at that time.
The following are the winners and losers in the other three contested districts, according to unofficial vote totals late Tuesday night, which do not include about 3,000 early votes that were still being tabulated.
In District 2, Republican Kevin Green finished first, Republican Mike Marron second, Republican newcomer Chuck Mockbee third and Democratic challenger Terry Thomas fourth.
In District 6, Republican newcomer Dennis Miller finished first, Republican incumbent John Alexander second, Republican incumbent Bob Fox third, and Democratic challenger Mike Puhr fourth.
In District 7, Democratic incumbent John Dreher finished first, Republican incumbent Craig Golden second, Democratic newcomer Larry Mills third, Democratic incumbent Mike Dodge fourth and Republican newcomer Neal Boyd fifth. However, the 3,000 early votes could especially affect the District 7 outcome, because only two votes separated Dodge and Mills and Golden finished with just a 23-vote lead over Mills.