Suburban Democrats make inroads in county government

Suburban voters' blue mood led to Democratic inroads in county government, where they narrowed the Cook County Board's Republican representation to two seats out of 17, put six more women on the DuPage County Board and are on the verge of putting Democrats in control of the Lake County Board for the first time in memory.

Voters also handed several Democrats countywide victories.

"There were people who said, 'This is the first time I voted for a Democrat in my life,'" said Holly Kim, a former Mundelein village trustee who defeated Republican incumbent Lake County Treasurer David Stolman.

While some voters singled out the national political climate, there were homemade problems for local Republican candidates, too. In Lake County, Republican board candidates fought against opponents' attempts to link them to an ethics probe involving former board Chairman Aaron Lawlor.

At the moment, the 21-member Lake County Board has 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, thanks to Democrats picking up three seats Tuesday. However, the race for District 10 in the Mundelein area is still too close to call. Incumbent Republican Chuck Bartels is trailing challenger Jessica Vealitzek by 16 votes out of 15,126 cast. If Vealtizek eventually wins, the Lake County Board would be controlled by Democrats.

Lake County Democrat Robin O'Connor of Libertyville also unseated Republican incumbent Carla Wyckoff for the clerk's post.

Six female Democrats will join fellow Democrat Liz Chaplin on the DuPage County Board. It is believed to be the largest collection of Democrats ever on that 18-member board at the same time.

DuPage voters also tapped Democrat Jean Kaczmarek to replace Republican incumbent Paul Hinds as county clerk.

In McHenry County - the only collar county that Gov.-elect JB Pritzker didn't carry Tuesday - Democrats added three new members to the 24-member board, which was completely Republican just two years ago.

Suburban Cook County voters ousted two longtime suburban Republican county board commissioners, including Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider. Democrats Kevin Morrison and Scott Britton beat Schneider and 20-year board veteran Gregg Goslin, respectively. Both districts cover large swathes of northwestern suburban Cook County.

"My opponent has been completely complacent with everything we've seen out of Washington, D.C.," Morrison said.

Kane County added two more Democrats to the county board after Tuesday's vote, and Democratic Sheriff candidate Ron Hain unseated Republican incumbent Don Kramer. Hain attributed his victory to a push to appeal to voters in areas of the county he considered GOP strongholds.

"From there, it really showed the amount of crossover we had," Hain said.

Will County added three new Democrats to the county board and voters also chose Democrats to replace the county clerk and incumbent treasurer.

Daily Herald staff writers Justin Kmitch, Russell Lissau, Lauren Rohr, Susan Sarkauskas, Marie Wilson and Mick Zawislak contributed to this story.

Holly Kim
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