With a net gain of four seats on the Will County Board, the Democrats will regain the majority they lost in 2014.
Local Democrats won seats in District 2 (Amanda Koch), District 5 (Meta Mueller), District 6 (Joe Van Duyne) and District 11 (Michelle “Mimi” Cowan). There was another new Democrat elected to the county board, Rachel Ventura in District 9, although she essentially replaced Lauren Staley-Ferry, D-Joliet, who was elected to the clerk’s office, so that district remains under split representation.
“We’ve never relied on what might be called the blue wave,” said Bill Thoman, chairman of the Will County Democrats. “We had an outstanding field of candidates this year.”
As for county board leadership, Minority Leader Rev. Herbert Brooks Jr., D-Joliet, said he intends to seek the speakership, a position he held from 2012 to 2014 when the Democrats were previously in power. He was the first African-American speaker.
“The blue wave, I think, was very effective,” Brooks said.
Brooks added that the Democratic caucus will meet after the new board members are sworn in next month. At the first meeting with the new members, they will decide committee assignments and who will be in leadership.
Still, Brooks said during the era of Republican control, both parties worked well together on a number of issues, especially when it came to large capital improvement projects like construction of the new courthouse.
In terms of this election’s politics, Brooks said Republicans tried to tie Democrats to State House Speaker Michael Madigan, making him out to be a “boogeyman,” a tactic that didn’t work and may have even backfired.
Brooks said he thought voters were also tired of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, which helped propel Democrats to victory.
“Voters spoke very loudly and said, ‘We want change,’” Brooks said.
Brooks has also been pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Joliet since 1990. He’s been on the county board since 2008.
If chosen as speaker, Brooks would replace Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, the speaker since Republicans last took control in 2014. Moustis won re-election to the county board as the highest vote earner in District 2 and has served on the board since 1992.