Democrat Lauren Staley-Ferry defeated Republican Laurie McPhillips on Tuesday in the race for the next Will County clerk.
Staley-Ferry maintained a solid lead in the vote tallies throughout the night, although the numbers narrowed toward the end. She beat McPhillips by about two and a half points and over 5,000 votes as of election night.
Staley-Ferry described the night as “surreal.”
“I think that I worked really hard,” she said. “I knocked on a lot of doors. I talked to a lot of people face to face, and I think that they appreciated that.”
McPhillips said she felt good about her campaign, but that there was “a lot of Pritzker money,” which put her campaign at a disadvantage.
“I think, if we would have gotten our message out there a little more ... but I think we were at a disadvantage in that way,” McPhillips said.
The race for whom would replace longtime County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots began over a year ago. Schultz Voots announced she would not seek re-election this year.
Staley-Ferry, a Will County Board member representing District 9, and Lockport Township Clerk Denise Mushro-Rumchak fought it out for the Democratic primary.
McPhillips is a real estate broker who previously served as the Will County recorder of deeds.
With the support of many labor groups and Democrats in the county, Staley-Ferry looked like a strong contender out of the gate. But then, The Herald-News broke the story about a felony forgery charge in Arizona back in 2002.
According to a police report, Staley-Ferry admitted to an investigator from the Scottsdale Police Department that she filled out a check from her then-employer for $500 and deposited it into her personal account.
Staley-Ferry initially denied she filled out the check when asked about it last year, but eventually said she tried repaying the money. She said she later donated the money to a women’s charity.
McPhillips said people she spoke to on the campaign trail were concerned about the forgery charge against her opponent.
“I don’t know if everybody that votes knew about [the charge],” McPhillips said.
She added residents said they were mostly concerned about Staley-Ferry not admitting publicly to the charge at first.
To those skeptical voters who might not have picked her, Staley-Ferry said she will “represent everybody in Will County” and touted her work with Republicans on the county board.
“What’s important for this office is the services that they provide and the security of our elections and access for everybody to be able to vote,” Staley-Ferry said.
Democrat Tim Brophy also was triumphant over Republican incumbent Will County Treasurer Steve Weber.
Weber first became treasurer in 2010 and previously served as Will County auditor from 2000 to 2008.
Brophy served on the Joliet City Council from 1995 to 2011.
Weber has touted his record of saving the county money to the tune of over
$8 million by measures such as outsourcing his office’s printing and a four-days-a-week, 10-hours-a-day workweek.
Brophy has gone after Weber for only being in the treasurer’s office two or three days a week, while being paid a salary of $93,116. He’s also gone after Weber for hiring his wife to work in the treasurer’s office, although Weber defended the practice saying she works part-time, is the lowest-paid employee in the office at
$13 an hour and does not directly report to him.
Brophy has also criticized Weber for taking campaign donations from banks. Weber said investing the money in those banks actually makes more money for the county, but the banks must have the best interest rate.