JOLIET – There were four countywide seats up for grabs in this election in Will County and the votes were extremely close.
Ultimately, three incumbent Democrats held on for another term while a fourth Democrat won a first term.
County executive will serve unprecedented fourth term
Larry Walsh Sr. has retained his seat as Will County executive.
Walsh received 148,488 votes, or 53.24 percent, in defeating challenger Laurie McPhillips, who received 130,436 votes, or 46.76 percent.
Walsh, a Democrat from Elwood, will begin his fourth term as the county’s CEO in January.
In his campaign, Walsh touted the progress the county has made in his time working together with the Will County Board. He will get an opportunity to help see several projects come to fruition.
Walsh did not immediately return calls for comment on Tuesday night.
McPhillips, a Plainfield Republican and former Will County employee and elected official, promised to hold the line on taxes if elected. She also said that after 45 years in different forms of elected office, that Walsh had become part of the establishment.
She vowed to challenge and direct executive office employees, and said she believes in term limits.
McPhillips has nearly 30 years experience in county positions dating back to 1985. She was Will County Recorder of Deeds from 2004 to 2008 but lost a re-election bid in 2008 and 2012. She was appointed in 2010 to fill a two-year vacancy on the County Board.
Before early voters were factored in, Walsh had a small lead on McPhillips.
“I knew it was tough race,” McPhillips said when reached for comment with all 300 precincts reporting. “His name has been around for 45 years, so I had a tough fight on my hands, but I think I did pretty well.”
Walsh’s lead grew when about 93,000 early voters were added at 10:15 p.m. McPhillips was hoping the 93,000 would turn out in her favor, saying “you never know, 93,000 is a lot.”
Circuit Clerk race
There will be a new circuit clerk for the first time in 20 years.
Democrat Andrea Chasteen, a Frankfort resident who has worked in the clerk’s office for 21 years, defeated Republican Marlene Carlson, an internet technology manager and Realtor from New Lenox, with 50.70 percent of the vote. Carlson got 138,751 votes while Chasteen received 142,704.
Four-term Democrat Pam McGuire did not seek another term. The clerk of the circuit court oversees about 130 employees who manage criminal, civil and traffic cases in Will County.
Incumbent Will County Auditor Duffy Blackburn, D-Joliet, defeated challenger Gary Good, R-Shorewood, with 52.76 percent of the vote. Blackburn received 148,070 votes while Good received 132,589 votes.
Blackburn has held the position of auditor for eight years. In a candidate questionnaire for Shaw Media, Blackburn cited his accomplishments in the role, including making the county’s books available online; automating and streamlining compilation and reporting; and restructuring the auditor’s office to cut costs by nearly 40 percent.
In the race for Will County Recorder of Deeds, incumbent Karen Stukel, D-Channahon, defeated her challenger, Kristin Cross, R-Joliet, with 52.17 percent of the vote. Stukel received 145,528 votes while Cross received 133,437 votes.
Stukel has served as recorder for the past eight years and will now enter her third term. Cross held a management role in the recorder’s office for nine years and now works as a real estate broker.
Stukel in a candidate questionnaire for Shaw Media cited the things she has achieved in her previous two terms, including cutting unnecessary spending and staff; introducing a property fraud alert program; implementing an electronic land records system; and starting a disaster recovery program that backs up all land records.
County sees boost in voter turnout
The county had 204,595 ballots cast as of 10 p.m. with all 300 precincts reporting. But when early voters – close to 93,000 – were added at 10:15 p.m. to voting totals, the gap in several countywide races widened.
Chasteen overtook Carlson after early voters were added, while Walsh, Blackburn and Stukel gained about a percentage point each.
In 2012, the county had 275,164 ballots cast with a 71.25 percent voter turnout. In 2016, the county had 296,800 ballots cast with 72.17 percent voter turnout.