Voters gave incumbent Lake County Board members a big thumbs-up Tuesday, convincingly re-electing veterans and giving newcomers enough support to continue their work.
Although one incumbent Democrat didn't run, the same party winner in Waukegan ensured the county board, whose members double as forest preserve commissioners, will have the same political makeup as when the polls opened.
Winners say party affiliation isn't nearly as much a factor as in state or federal races, and it will be the tough economy that will dominate the work of both the county and forest preserve going forward.
"We've had to make some cuts over the last few years and it's going to get worse," said incumbent Republican Steve Carlson of Grandwood Park, who won a third term in District 7, which serves the Gurnee area, over challenger David Weinstein.
Unofficial totals showed Carlson with 4,297 votes to 3,132 for Weinstein.
Nine county board seats were up for election but two were uncontested, leaving seven in play.
A surge by Democrats in 2008, whittled the GOP majority to 13-10.
A potentially historic change was within reach but didn't materialize.
Democrats held the Waukegan-based 8th District seat and incumbent Democrat Anne Flanagan Bassi won in District 23.
Bassi outlasted an onslaught of negative ads in the final weeks of what became the most expensive county board campaign to defeat challenger Carlton "Carl" Marcyan, a Republican from Highland Park.
Bassi had 6,711 votes to 3,099 for Marcyan.
Bassi said voters rejected negative campaigning.
"We remained positive," she said.
"Voters want and deserved a reason to vote for somebody not a reason to vote against somebody."
In the 15th District, veteran Republican board member Carol Calabresa of Libertyville easily won re-election. Calabresa had 5,580 votes to 3,022 for Democrat Delfino "Del" Parra and 335 votes for Green Party candidate David Serdar.
In District 18, Republicans Aaron Lawlor of Vernon Hills held on against Democratic challenger Kay Hoogland, 4,301 votes to 3,891 votes.
In District 19, Republican Craig Taylor of Lake Zurich bested Roberta Potempa, 5,122 votes to 4,191 votes.
In District 4, incumbent Republican Brent Paxton of Zion also won re-election, defeating Democrat Beverly Ann Mull, 3,523 to 2,805.