DeKALB – DeKalb County Democrats picked up a seat Tuesday to make an even 12-12 split on the 24-member County Board, according to unofficial vote totals.
Heading into the election, Republicans outnumbered Democrats 13 to 11 on the board. Best-case scenarios included a 17-7 advantage for Republicans and 15-9 advantage for Democrats.
Mark Pietrowski Jr., chairman of the DeKalb County Democrats, said he was happy with all of the campaign efforts over the past few months and said an even split on the board would be intriguing. Pietrowski will represent District 3 with Republican incumbent Ken Andersen. Pietrowski knocked off Republican incumbent Riley Oncken.
“There was a very, very good effort put in by everyone,” Pietrowski said. “People here are very passionate about improving the community, and we hope to build on [our] success.”
There were eight contested races in the 12 district races Tuesday. Only three of those had a sweep from either party while the other five were split with one Republican and one Democrat winning.
Other Republican winners included Russell Deverell and John C. Emerson in District 2, Anthony Cvek in District 4, Julia Fullerton in District 8, Jeff Whelan in District 10, and John Frieders and Jeffery Metzger in District 12.
Other Democrats who won Tuesday were Anita Jo Turner in District 4, Derek Tyson and Stephen Reid in District 5, Marc Johnson in District 8, Julia Fauci and Paul Stoddard in District 9, and Frank O'Barski in District 10.
Republicans Charles Foster, John Gudmunson, Dan Cribben and Tracy Jones faced no challengers, while Democrats Ruth Anne Tobias, Bob Brown, Sally DeFauw and Misty Haji-Sheikh also went unchallenged.
It was disappointing night for some board members such as Oncken, who said he was surprised with the outcome. Oncken helped Scott Newport, who was also defeated by Democrat Marc Johnson, draw the map that failed to help either gain re-election.
Oncken also supported the landfill expansion and said that decision may have played a role, although Newport voted against the expansion and realized the same fate.
“It’s been a pleasure serving the county,” Oncken said. “I’m disappointed with the outcome. There is always more you could do.”
The new County Board will have some challenges with a jail expansion in the planning stages, a new county administrator set to start by the end of the year and controlling a budget that has required $900,000 in reserve spend-downs the past couple years to remain balanced.
The board will also choose a new leader, as Chairman Larry Anderson did not seek re-election. Whether the leader will be a Democrat or Republican is unknown.
Steve Kuhn, chairman for the DeKalb County Republicans, said he was disappointed about the results of many of Tuesday’s elections from Mitt Romney losing the county to failing to get the 14 to 15 County Board seats he believed were in reach.
But, Kuhn said some of the major issues such as the jail expansion and budget problems can still be addressed on the local level.
“It works pretty well with people from both parties working together,” Kuhn said. “They can work together on local issues.”
Paul Stoddard, a DeKalb Democrat, said he was excited to see an even split after expecting to just hold on to the 11 seats the party had.
He and Julia Fauci, another incumbent Democrat, fended off a challenge from Republican Samuel-Louis Bandy Jr.
He said new blood such as Johnson, who had one of the highest vote totals at 1,929, would energize the board.
“It’s always nice when new people come in and bring fresh ideas,” Stoddard said. “I’m looking forward to what the new board can do.”