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McLean County Board sets power-sharing agreement after split election

John McIntyre
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
John McIntyre, center, was reelected McLean County Board chair by a unanimous vote on Monday.

McLean County Board members presented a united front on Monday after approving a power-sharing agreement following the Nov. 8 election in which Republicans lost their long-standing majority.

The board unanimously reelected Republican John McIntyre of Normal as chair and elected Democrat Elizabeth Johnston of Normal as vice-chair as part of an agreement the two parties brokered to reflect the evenly-split board.

McLean County Board
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
McLean County judge Rebecca Foley (not pictured) administered the oath of office for county board members on Monday.

Seven new board members also were sworn in: Democrats Krystle Able, Jack Abraham, Corey Beirne, Jeanne Biles, and Natalie Roseman-Mendoza; and Republicans Adam Reeves and Geoff Tompkins. Each replaced board members who chose not to run.

Voters elected 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats to the board in the November election. Democrats have gained seats in each of the last four elections going back to 2016.

After the board approved of the new leadership structure, McIntyre asked board members to turn down the political heat and not “cause harm to other people” with social media posts.

“We must remind ourselves that we are people first who represent all of the people in the county from both political parties. The question is will be good enough people ... meet, debate and vote with civility,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre also called on the most experienced board members to lead by mentoring the newer members. He has served as chair since 2016, and has 22 years on the board covering two stints, dating back to 1980. McIntyre said previously he doesn't plan to seek another term on the county board.

As part of the agreement, the two parties also agreed to an equal number of assignments on each of its standing committees: executive, finance, justice, health, property, land use and development and transportation. The board applied the same format to its rules and legislative subcommittees.

Elizabeth Johnston, left, drew lots for a two-year County Board term on Monday after the board elected her vice chair.
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
Elizabeth Johnston, left, drew lots for a two-year County Board term on Monday after the board elected her vice chair.

Leadership appointments also were evenly split between the parties.

Johnston, who was first elected to the board in 2018, replaces Republican Jim Soeldner as vice chair. She said the Democrats negotiated with McIntyre on board assignments and committee structure and decided an even number of seats on each committee was most equitable to give both parties fair representation.

“It ended up being a nice working relationship that we had there, so I really have a lot of hope for what that means for the next two years,” Johnston said. “That’s the precedent we are trying to set and to show the McLean County residents we are here to support them and we are here to represent them.”

Johnston said she expects tie votes will be rare.

“I do hope this will encourage (board members) to talk through details a little more specifically because we do want to have a functioning government,” she said.

Board members also drew lots to determine which member in each district will serve a two-year term and which will serve for four years. This follows the once-a-decade redistricting process.

The candidates who were chosen for four-year terms were:

  • District 1 Catherine Metsker (R) (by agreement, no drawing)
  • District 2 William Friedrich {R) (by agreement, no drawing)
  • District 3 Lyndsay Bloomfield (R)
  • District 4 Krystle Able (D)
  • District 5 John McIntyre (R)
  • District 6 Beverly Bell (D)
  • District 7 Geoff Tompkins (R)
  • District 8 Lea Cline (D)
  • District 9 Natalie Roseman-Mendoza (D)
  • District 10 Corey Beirne (D)

McIntyre said aside from improving the political climate on the board, he wants to focus on the county’s mental health initiatives, plans to redevelop the Fairview building in Normal and prepare for future budgets that will have less reliance on federal COVID relief money.

"If we are prudent and we are good fiscal managers, we will realize that," McIntyre said. "We will continue to try to balance budgets and work with the tax rate that we have."

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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