JOLIET – Will County Board member Lauren Staley-Ferry won the Democratic nomination for Will County clerk on Tuesday night soundly over Lockport Township Clerk Denise Mushro-Rumchak.
“I’m really excited tonight,” Staley-Ferry said. “It feels really good. I worked superhard for the last nine months since I decided to do this.”
Staley-Ferry captured 58.52 percent of the 48,325 votes. Mushro-Rumchak earned 41.48 percent. Republican Laurie McPhillips ran unopposed and earned 33,537 votes.
Tuesday night’s totals are unofficial and will be counted with the provisional ballots in two weeks for the official total.
“Lauren, I want you to know that you will be dearly missed as a minority leader on the Will County Board,” said Will County Board Member Herbert Brooks Jr., D-Joliet, on Tuesday night at Staley-Ferry’s campaign party. “This is a bittersweet moment for me because I’m glad you won.”
Staley-Ferry was first elected to the Will County Board in 2014 representing District 9 and has served as the minority whip for the Democrats. She decided to run for the clerk’s office after Nancy Schultz Voots announced last year she would not seek re-election.
Staley-Ferry touted her experience in the private sector and corporate world working at CapitalOne. She gained support and endorsements from the Will & Grundy Counties Building Trades Council, County Executive Larry Walsh Sr., state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and at least nine of her colleagues on the Will County Board.
In December, The Herald-News reported on a felony forgery charge against Staley-Ferry from 2003. She was working in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the time and, according to court documents and a police report, she admitted to filling out a check from her employer for $500 and depositing it into her personal account in summer 2002.
She shortly thereafter left the state to be with her then-boyfriend in Wisconsin and then eventually settled in Joliet, her hometown. After Staley-Ferry failed to appear for a hearing, a warrant was issued for her arrest. In September 2003, the court entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on her behalf. The case was dismissed in 2012 without prejudice because prosecutors could not locate her.
When first asked about the charge, she said denied it, saying the charge was “misdirected” and that there was “nothing there.” She later released a statement saying she was innocent of all charges. It was not until the Herald-News published a 2002 police report on the forgery allegation that it was discovered she admitted to filling out the check to an investigator.
Mushro-Rumchak indirectly made this a campaign issue as she stated in her Herald-News Questionnaire, “The educated voters of Will County should not put faith in anyone with a questionable unethical background. The County Clerk’s office is too important to put in jeopardy.”
Mushro-Rumchak said she’ll now focus on her family after this defeat but said the race has been a positive experience for her.
“For me, this has been a positive,” Mushro-Rumchak said. “The outcome was not what I wanted, of course, but in the long run, I can hold my head up high. I ran an honest campaign, and I had wonderful people supporting me.”
Staley-Ferry will go on to face McPhillips in the November general election to replace Schultz Voots in the Will County Clerk’s Office.