Longtime chairman of the DuPage Democratic Party resigns
The longtime chairman of the Democratic Party of DuPage County has resigned and will be replaced next month in a vote of precinct committeemen,
Robert Peickert of Elmhurst stepped down Monday from the post he's held since March 2008.
"It's been 11 years," Peickert said Thursday. "It has consumed a lot of my time. It's time for some new blood to come in."
Peickert said he was planning his exit before he was elected last April to his sixth two-year term. He said he told precinct committeemen he was going to step down after the November election.
"I knew this was going to be an important election," he said. "I thought I could be of help given my past experience and knowledge of the county."
There also was a lot of transition work that needed to be completed before Peickert could officially step down.
"That work is being done," he said, "so it's time."
A retired union organizer, Peickert rose to the top of the county Democratic Party in 2008 after leading an organization called "Operation Turn DuPage Blue" that helped draw more Democrats to the primary ballot boxes than Republicans.
He said there have been some ups and downs during the past 11 years, including some "internal difficulties" within the party.
Still, Democrats overcame those challenges to make significant progress, he said, including increasing the number of precinct committeemen.
DuPage Democrats also enjoyed their most successful election in November in what traditionally has been a Republican stronghold.
There are now seven Democrats on the 18-member county board; the county is represented by Democrats in Congress; and the majority of state officials are Democrats.
"I think we're probably at a point we envisioned when we started Operation Turn DuPage Blue," Peickert said. "I'm absolutely tickled to death at where we are. If you look at the elected offices, we are now a blue county."
So while it's bittersweet to step down, Peickert said he feels good about his party's future.
"I'm pretty confident we will hold together and carry on," he said.
Peickert said his replacement will be chosen Feb. 27 by Democratic precinct committeemen. He said he hopes the new chairman will receive the party's full support.
"I just hope we can all stick together," he said. "I don't want this election to be contentious."