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Democratic County Board Member To Face Primary Challenge

Hannah and George
Hannah Beer, right, plans to run for McLean County Board District 6 against incumbent Democrat George Gordon.

UPDATED 7:20 a.m. | A long-serving Democrat on the McLean County Board is getting a primary challenger.

Hannah Beer said Wednesday she plans to run in 2020 for County Board District 6, which includes parts of Normal including the Illinois State University campus. Democrat George Gordon currently represents District 6 and plans to seek re-election. That would set up a primary election in March 2020.

Beer is a senior political science major at ISU who serves on the Human Relations Commission. Beer is also a Democratic precinct committeeperson in Normal.

Beer said she wants to focus on “accessibility to voter services,” more staffing for polling locations, and ensuring the county clerk’s budget is “followed as it was implemented.”

“Our county officials have not been as eager to accommodate the needs of those who wish to do their civic duty,” Beer said in a statement. “Due to polling places using outdated equipment and being severely understaffed, we’ve seen students consistently face ludicrous wait times on Election Day, which unfortunately a led to a suppressed student vote.”

Republican County Clerk Kathy Michael, who defeated a Democratic challenger in 2018, has denied any allegations of voter suppression. At a County Board Finance Committee meeting in August, Michael said her office has never faced a formal claim of voter suppression and those who raise that allegation are doing a disservice to the voters.

“That's an insult to me, that's an insult to my office, my staff, Democrats and Republicans, the voters of McLean County to try to portray this county as having voter suppression or racial leanings is appalling and it has to come to an end," Michael said. "This kind of language is going on nationally, it's politically motivated and people are sick of it. That was proven in my election results in November.”

ISU Representation

Gordon was first elected to the County Board in 1996. He is now chair of the County Board’s Justice Committee.

Beer said in her news release that ISU contributes more than $550 million to the area economy each year, and no ISU students hold elected positions in county government.

"District 6 includes ISU but it is not limited to it. And there are a lot of people in District 6 who may have different views of what ISU is and what ISU representation would look like," said Gordon.

Gordon taught for decades in the Department of Politics and Government at ISU. He said he is still on a faculty advisory board in the department.

Gordon said he will present himself during the campaign "based on my experience on the County Board and on my connections between the campus and the community because I am both a townie and an ISU person."

"I don't think any vote either campus or noncampus community in District 6 is monolithic," said Gordon.

It is not unusual to have college students run for office in Bloomington-Normal.

Current Illinois Wesleyan University Student Jordan Baker has also announced a county board run as a Republican in District 8 in Bloomington next year.

In the last election cycle, a Heartland Community College student won a seat on the County Board. Logan Smith now represents District 4 in a different part of Normal than Gordon.

And current Bloomington City Council member Scott Black was appointed to the County Board to fill a vacancy when he was still an Illinois Wesleyan University student.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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