DeKALB – Dennis Sands was an early backer of Donald Trump who was drawn to his anti-establishment message.
Sands traveled in July to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as a delegate for him. He said he and his wife, Kathy, left the convention knowing they had been part of history.
Sands, of Shabbona, said Wednesday that he believed leading up to Tuesday’s election that Trump would win despite polls showing him trailing because of the silent support he had. He said he felt confident that Trump’s business mindset would help move America in the right direction.
“It’s going to be a change in attitude,” Sands said. “The attitude is, ‘Let’s get things done, and if we’ve got to make a left turn on something let’s make a left turn on something, but let’s just get it done.’ Nowadays politicians just aren’t willing to do that.”
“… I love that phrase, ‘Drain the swamp.’ I think that’s what got him elected, I think that’s what put him over the top because that hit it right on the head, let’s drain the swamp and get things done.”
He added that the movement that elected Trump began with the tea party and other groups who had grown dissatisfied with the political elites in Washington.
“This movement just didn’t start this year with Trump,” Sands said. “This movement’s been going on 10 to 12 years, if not longer.”
Sands and other local Republicans were jubilant after Trump’s victory, while those who supported his opponents ranged from apprehensive to downright sad.
Most of the Trump yard signs were gone Wednesday morning when DeKalb County Republican Chairman Steve Kuhn went out to pick them up.
A half dozen or more people showed up at the local Republican Party headquarters the day after the election to pick up any remaining signs and banners. Many simply wanted a piece of political history, Kuhn said. The mood was positive.
“We’re all smiling,” he said.
In DeKalb County, Republicans were in the minority. Hillary Clinton won the county with 20,348 votes or 46.88 percent of the total. Trump got 19,051 votes, or 43.89 percent of the county’s total. Libertarian candidate Johnson managed to get 2,463 votes, or 5.67 percent. Write-in candidates got more votes (803) than Green Party candidate Jill Stein (743), according to unofficial returns.
“I always thought it would be the independents who would come out to support Trump,” Kuhn said. “People really wanted to see a change, because they were unhappy with the government.”
Democrats, on the other hand, were feeling “disbelief, shock, despair, depression,” said Paul Stoddard, chairman of the DeKalb County Democrats.
“It’s been a bad day,” he said.
Stoddard said Trump’s victory was the result of several factors. While Clinton inspired some in her party, others had little enthusiasm for the candidate.
“She didn’t present a vision for the country,” he said. “Bernie [Sanders] did. And Trump certainly did, although I disagree with that vision. ... Trump was the candidate of change and things haven’t been going all that well since the recession.”
Clinton’s defeat took some by surprise at Northern Illinois University.
Jeff Heise, a 20-year-old student from Batavia who is studying biology, voted for Clinton. He watched her concession Wednesday from the Holmes Student Center.
“Intolerance cannot stand,” he said. “To have a candidate [Trump] who supported such intolerance is unnerving.”
Heise said he connected with Clinton’s message Wednesday to keep fighting for what’s right.
Quinten Sowell, a 24-year-old from Rockford who graduated from Kishwaukee College, watched the same speech. He also voted for Clinton.
“It was a little disappointing, saddening,” he said. “I’m not the happiest person, but I believe in giving [Trump] a chance. And I’m still going to live my dream.”
While some were aghast at the nation’s choice for president and fearful of what a Trump presidency might entail, Stoddard said the outlook was murky when it comes to what would actually happen next.
“I don’t know what Trump is actually going to do,” Stoddard said. “He used to be a Democrat, now he’s a Republican.”
He said he hoped most of what Trump said in the campaign trail was just rhetoric.
How they voted
Candidate Total Votes Vote %
Hillary Rodham Clinton (DEM) 20348 46.88 Donald J. Trump (REP) 19051 43.89
Gary Johnson (LIB) 2463 5.67
WRITE-IN (NON) 803 1.85
Jill Stein (GRN) 743 1.71