RANTOUL — The village of Rantoul will have a new mayor.
Voters on Tuesday tapped challenger Chuck Smith for the village's top post over incumbent Neal Williams, who was running for his fourth term. Smith pulled in 120 more votes than Williams, winning 881-761.
A jubilant Smith said he felt like he was "walking on a cloud" after final election figures were released.
"I can't believe it."
Smith's supporters gathered at Rantoul's new downtown restaurant, Java Connection, to watch the totals.
"Everybody was very happy, very joyous," Smith said. "My wife (Linda) and I thanked everybody for coming out and celebrating with us. It took a lot of work by a lot of people."
Smith said he realized the mayor's post was his just before 10 p.m. — about three hours after the polls closed.
Smith was already looking ahead to the job before him and promised, "I'm going to do one fine job for this community."
He said among the top issues facing Rantoul are "getting a primary source of income into this town and replenishing the image of the community."
"I think people appreciated someone with the vision. We're going to bring that progressive agenda," Smith said.
The mayor-elect said the first thing he wants to do is to see the village market the community, "to advertise, getting some life in downtown and the village as a whole."
Reflecting comments he made at a candidate forum, Smith said he would like to aggressively go after establishment of a foreign trade zone in Rantoul that could benefit companies that want to import and export into and out of this country. He said a foreign trade zone could also lead to more local jobs.
Williams was upbeat after his defeat and said he would continue to be an active part of the community,
"There's other avenues that I can help this community," Williams said.
"I've been very proud to serve the community the last 16 years," he said, referring to a span that included four years on the village board. "There are lots of great people in the community. I would like to think that the foundation has been laid in the last 16 years."
After Williams presided over a meeting of the village board earlier in the evening, and before he headed to The Linden, where supporters awaited election results, spent spent the time pulling up some of the many campaign signs that festooned yards throughout the community.
Williams said he won't miss all the work that went into campaigning.
"The election for me started around Jan. 23," he said, "and it's been constant since. You're doing something every day. I did spend five days out of state, but aside from that you're doing something every day."
He also credited his supporters who did a great deal of work.
"While I'm out knocking on doors, I had supporters, friends, family, doing other functions such as the Internet, Facebook (urging people to vote for him)."
Other Rantoul races
RANTOUL — Voters Tuesday elected two incumbents and one former board member to three seats with four-year terms on the village board.
Incumbents Anthony (Tony) Brown (1,045 votes) and Roger Jones (947) and former board member and one-time village clerk Jeremy Reale (999) were elected to seats. Sam Hall III received 840 votes. Reale will take the seat currently held by Margurette Carter, who was did not seek re-election.
In the race for a two-year term on the village board, Chad Smith (760) defeated Kevin Hunt (726). That seat is currently held by Herman Fogal, who was appointed following the death of Jim Stubblefield. Fogal opted not to run for the seat.
Incumbent Mike Graham (1,267) was unopposed for village clerk.
In the race for Rantoul City Schools board, voters retained four incumbents.
Kevin McCallister (1,113), Mark Keyes (1,032), Kevin Modglin (1,013) and Saundra Uhlott (769) were elected. May Martin (650) was defeated.
Four candidates were unopposed for Rantoul Township High School board — Doug Jordahl (1,539), Ann Reale (1,368) Kelly Foster (1,270) and Katie Carver (1,167).