DANVILLE - By one vote, the 27 newly-elected Vermilion County board members chose Republican Gary Weinard as their new chairman Monday night.
The voting fell along party lines, as the 14 Republicans nominated and voted for Weinard, the first Republican county board chairman in more than 20 years, and the 13 Democrats nominated and voted for outgoing Chairman Jim McMahon.
It was a repeat of the same when the board chose its vice chairman. The 14 Republicans nominated and voted for fellow Republican Mike Marron, and the 13 Democrats nominated and voted for fellow Democrat John Dreher.
The Republicans gained their one-seat majority in the Nov. 6 election when all 27 seats were up for election. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman swore in the new board Monday night.
As Weinard sat in the chairman's seat just after the vote for chairman, he said to McMahon, who's still a board member, that it is a different perspective after 18 years on the board.
Weinard thanked McMahon and all the county's staff, department heads and elected officeholders for their teamwork the last several years. He said his intent is to continue working together to solve the challenges the county faces.
Weinard, 66, of Hoopeston, takes the position from McMahon, a Democrat, who has held it for the last six years. Weinard, a long-time farmer, who is also Grant Township highway commissioner, said Monday night that whether he will resign from that elected office is still to be determined at Tuesday night's township caucus meeting.
He said he doesn't believe it would be ethical for him to stay in both positions. Vermilion County does not have a county manager's position, so the county board chairman who is elected from among the 27 board members is the top county administrator. His annual salary as county board chairman is $65,000.