County Board Chair Wins Close Race; Democrats Show Modest Gains
McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre held on in a close battle for re-election while Republicans maintained slim leads in several close races in their hope to maintain a majority.
Democrats picked up at least one seat on the board, with Benjamin Webb’s win over fellow newcomer Adelita Cruz in District 4 (parts of central and northwest Normal). Republican incumbent William Caisley did not seek re-election in District 4.
The GOP would maintain a 12-8 advantage on the board when new members are sworn in Dec. 7 if their leads hold up.
McIntyre, a retired teacher and coach, led Rachael Lund, a researcher at State Farm, by 547 votes (51%-45%) after the votes were counted, though provisional and some mail-in ballots will be added. Libertarian Jo Ann Litwiller, an officer manager at Illinois State University, finished third with 4% of the vote.
The closest county board race is in District 7 (east-central Bloomington). First-term Republican incumbent Jacob Beard, a bank business analyst for State Farm, leads Val Laymon, a Democrat, who works as a manager in the restaurant industry, by 11 votes (4,053-4042). Libertarian Darin George Kaeb, an Army National Guard veteran who works at Marcfirst, came in third with 4%.
“It’s great to see the turnout in the total votes cast is so high,” Beard said early Wednesday. “Just knowing the district, knowing how tight it was, this is not necessarily surprising.”
Bloomington Election Commission Executive Director Tim Mitchell said the commission has 13 provisional ballots and potentially several hundred mail-in ballots that could come in before Nov. 17.
Laymon said in a news release the race is too close to call.
"With so many ballots outstanding, I am optimistic about my chances of becoming the next representative in District 7," Laymon said.
The election also saw the youngest woman to be elected to the McLean County Board, as Illinois State University student Hannah Beer easily won in District 6 that covers ISU and Uptown Normal.
Beer cruised to victory by a 77%-23% margin over Libertarian David Scarpelli, a live-in house director for an ISU fraternity. Beer defeated 24-year incumbent George Gordon in the March primary.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has supported, voted and put their trust in me. I am so honored to have been elected to the McLean County Board District 6,” Beer said. “I am looking forward to serving my community and representing Illinois State University students on the board. I am committed to making sure that our local government works for the people by being both transparent and accessible.”
In District 4 (parts of central and northwest Normal) Benjamin Webb, a teacher at University High School in Normal, defeated fellow newcomer Adelita Cruz, a manager at State Farm, by a 56% to 44% margin.
Webb was the Democratic candidate for the 105th Illinois House race in 2018, when he lost to incumbent Republican Dan Brady. He said that experience helped him in his second campaign.
“I got a letter from (U.S.) Sen. Dick Durbin after the 2018 election,” Webb said. “(It said) you need to stick with this and keep doing this. I’m very happy ... that in this race I came out with a win.”
Democrats retained the seat in District 8 (central and west Bloomington). Lea Cline, an art history professor at ISU who chairs the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission, defeated Republican Jordan Baker, a recent Illinois Wesleyan University graduate, by a 67% to 33% margin. Cline will fill the seat Carlo Robustelli vacated in September when he moved out of state.
Cline also applied for the short-term vacancy that McIntyre chose not to fill until after the election. Cline and longtime former county board member Paul Segobiano were the only applicants.
In District 9 (south Bloomington), incumbent Republican Susan Schafer leads Democrat Jackie Gunderson by 493 votes. Schafer has served on the board for 10 years and chairs its health committee. She helped develop the county’s mental health action plan. Gunderson works full time at ISU and attends classes at Lincoln College.
McLean County Democratic Party Chair Nikita Richards said races in districts 7 and 9 are too close for the party to concede.
“We are going to stand here, we are going to keep standing and keep fighting until every vote is counted,” Richards said.
In District 2, Republican William Freidrich, a corn and soybean farmer from rural Heyworth, cruised to a victory over Democrat Jeff Bertrand of Heyworth, a State Farm employee, by a 70% to 30% margin. The County Board appointed Friedrich in July 2019 to fill the remainder of Scott Murphy’s term. Friedrich also chairs the Bloomington Township Public Water District.
In District 3 (western McLean County, south of Bloomington), Republican incumbent George Wendt easily won a three-way race over Democratic challenger R.J. McCracken and Libertarian Derek Evans of Danvers. Wendt finished with 61% of the vote to McCracken’s 34% and Evans’ 5%. Wendt, of rural Bloomington, has served 12 years on the county board.
Republican Catherine Metsker of Carlock in District 1 (northeastern McLean County) and Republican Josh Barnett of Bloomington in District 10 (east Bloomington) were both unopposed.
Richards said regardless of the outcomes in the still close races, she’s proud of the Democratic candidates' showing, closing in on the Republican majority.
“We had a record number of Democratic candidates running, giving voters for once the opportunity to have a choice on the ballot,” Richards said.
Final Bloomington election results weren’t posted until after midnight as the last batch of ballots to be uploaded came from early voting ballots that had mistakenly omitted two judicial retention questions.
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