Election Day. It's finally here. After months of hard campaigning across the county, voters are ready to cast ballots that could change the face of county government.
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One of Will County's most contentious races has been that of the battle between Plainfield Republican Dave Carlson and his former boss, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, a Joliet Democrat. Carlson has gone on the offensive, .
However, that is not the only contested race voters will see on the ballot Tuesday.
All of the incumbents holding countywide offices are facing challenges to their positions. County Board member Cory Singer, a Republican from Frankfort, opted not to seek re-election so he could try to unseat County Executive Larry Walsh, a Democrat. Walsh is also facing a challenge from Leonard Thompson Jr., a fellow Democrat.
The other countywide officeholders are also Democrats. Circuit Clerk Pam McGuire is facing Marlene Carlson, Recorder of Deeds Karen Stukel is facing Laurie McPhillips, Auditor Duffy Blackburn is facing Mark Batinick, and Coroner Patrick O'Neil is facing Charles Lyons.
The Will County Board is sure to see some new faces after this election. With the redistricting map approved last year, the board will be going from nine districts with three representatives each to 13 districts with two representatives each.
(To determine which district you are now in, check the back of your voter registration card or consult this map.)
There will be contests on Election Day in all of the districts in or surrounding Joliet other than District 8, where incumbent board members Denise Winfrey and Herbert Brooks Jr. face no opposition. Both are Democrats.
In all of the other districts, however, it comes down to a split between parties -- with two from each seeking to fill just two seats.
The district that encompasses most of Joliet is District 9, in which incumbents Walter Adamic and Diane Seiler-Zigrossi, both Democats, are facing off against Catherine Perretta and Ignacio Ramirez, who goes by "Jerry."
District 10 includes parts of Joliet as well as Crest Hill, Romeoville and part of Lockport. Again, two longstanding incumbent Democrats -- Stephen Wilhelmi and Joseph Babich -- are hoping to keep their seats from going to Republicans Sharon Cemeno-Hicks and Christine Boban-Merriman.
Click here for profiles of Will County candidates.
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Republicans are pushing hard to make House Speaker Mike Madigan and the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly an issue. Out in the far western suburbs, Republicans Kay Hatcher, Garrett Peck and Jim Oberweis look to make a strong showing in this traditionally conservative area. They'll take on Democrats Andrew Bernard, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and Corrine Pierog, respectively
42nd Senate: Peter Hurtado (R) vs. Linda Holmes (D)
Plainfield Township Park District commissioner Peter Hurtado is a small business owner who says he got his start as a laborer and worked his way up the ranks before opening his own business. Democrat Linda Holmes, the incumbent, was endorsed thusly by the Chicago Tribune: "Is this some alternative universe? Republican Peter Hurtado of Plainfield proposes a $1 per transaction tax on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to fund state pensions, a sure way to send the exchanges packing. He knocks Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora for voting to cut Medicaid spending and end the corrupt legislative scholarship program. Holmes is endorsed.”
49th Senate: Garrett Peck (R) vs. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D)
Plainfield Republican Garrett Peck, a village trustee, was among the candidates who received endorsements from the Chicago Tribune. Peck is going up against Will County Regional Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.
In endorsing Peck, the Trib wrote that Bertino-Tarrant “is woefully short on specifics about how to address the state's most vexing problems,” while saying Peck “speaks with confidence about how he'd fix the state's pension and workers' compensation systems, about the limitations of the new campaign finance laws, about the Catch-22 of handing out tax breaks to prevent businesses from fleeing the state. He would like to abolish the do-nothing Health Facilities Planning Board. He would bring a common-sense business perspective to state government."
Walsh, son of Will County Executive Larry Walsh, was appointed to replace Jack McGuire as state representative in the 86th District earlier this years. He also assumes McGuire's position on the ballot, McGuire having won the primary but bowing out for health reasons shortly thereafter. Alm is a paralegal working for the Will County state's attorney's office until late 2011 and now working for a private law firm. Walsh worked for Caterpillar in Joliet for 14 years and then joined the Machinists union staff, where he is secretary-treasurer of District 8.
97th State House: Tom Cross (R)
Incumbent Tom Cross is running unopposed, once again — but this time in a newly created district. The new 97th District encompasses portions of Plainfield, Shorewood and Oswego.
98th State House: Bob Kalnicky (R) vs. Natalie Manley (D)
Bob Kalnicky of Bolingbrook serves on the Fountaindale Public Library board and is the executive director of the Community Service Council of Northern Will County; Natalie Manley is a Joliet accountant and co-host of WJOL's "Lynne, Mary and Natalie" show. Their race has taken a nasty turn, with Kalnicky issuing an ad (complete with a photo of handcuffs) attacking Manley for a May 2012 domestic battery arrest — despite the fact that the case was dropped in August and, ultimately, no charges were filed. Some voters said they found the ad offensive, and Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante issued a statement chastising Kalnicky.
State Constitutional Amendment: Also on the ballot is an amendment to the state constitution that would require a three-fifths majority for any government body to change its pension system. Both conservative and liberal lobbying groups have lined up against this amendment, saying it's bad policy and doesn't address the problems with the state's pension burdens.
Two congressional races in northern Illinois are must-watch contests. Democrat Tammy Duckworth's bid to unseat Rep. Joe Walsh, a Tea Party favorite, in the north suburbs has drawn a lot national attention and out-of-district financial support. And in the west suburbs, Rep. Judy Biggert is trying to stay in the House and fend off Bill Foster, a former one-term congressman trying to return to Congress, but the latest polling shows them in a dead heat.
11th District: Judy Biggert (R) vs. Bill Foster (D)
Republican Judy Biggert is running neck and neck against Bill Foster in the newly drawn 11th District. Biggert, who currently represents the 3rd Congressional District, is seeking an eighth term. Former Congressman Foster represented the 14th District from 2008 to 2010. A recent poll showed Foster with a slight edge heading into election day.
14th District: Randy Hultgren (R) vs. Dennis Anderson (D)
Hultgren currently represents the 14th District in Congress and seeking his second term in office. He has the endorsements of the Daily Herald, the Northwest Herald and the Chicago Tribune. This is Anderson's first time running for elected office. He is a retired assistant director at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center at the University of Loyola in Chicago.