Democrats still hold county board majority

By Gus Bode

Early, absentee and grace ballots played a major role in Tuesday’s elections for the Jackson County Board.

Jackson County Clerk and Recorder Larry Reinhardt said 1,100 ballots were cast during early, absentee and grace ballots, and those votes put candidates in two county board races neck and neck.

Democratic incumbent Mickey Korando won over challenger Bruce Wallace by only one vote. The Democrats retained the majority in the county board but did lose ground to the Republicans – Democrats won four seats and Republicans won three.

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Some employees within the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office speculated that there could be a recount in the district.

The race between Lisa Budslick and Donald R. Barrett also came down to the wire, with Barrett beating Budslick by 69 votes.

Reinhardt said the county’s voter turnout was higher than expected, with extra ballots sent to a number of precincts.

‘We had based the number of ballots we sent to each precinct on the last gubernatorial election, and the fact that a lot of them needed more is a good sign,’ he said.

For the Republicans, Daniel Bost, who won a District 2 board seat, said he was happy to win because he believes it will help balance the county board politically. He also said he hopes to see more economic development within Jackson County.

‘It gives me confidence people in District 2 are ready to move forward,’ Bost said.

Even though the Green Party, which had candidates for two seats, didn’t win any, they still expressed hope.

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Jennifer Vaughn, a senior from Coal City studying plant biology who ran under the Green Party for a District 6 seat, said the Green Party received more votes than expected for the board.

The county board has recently been facing budget problems. Former County Board Chairman Gary Hartlieb previously said the board, like many county boards, is running out of money. During the past four or five years, tax caps have greatly contributed to this problem.

Throughout those years, revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and a replacement tax from the state has helped the board keep the budget balanced. Another important issue that could determine whether the budget will remain balanced is the outcome of current negotiations between the board and county employees for their contracts.

The board provides money to various agencies, such as the Alliance Health Care Clinic and the Jackson County Business Development Corporation, and Hartlieb previously said if the board doesn’t get more revenue, the funding could be cut, resulting in a loss of jobs.

The Jackson County Board acts as the legislative arm of the county government, supplies money for county operations and is also in charge of the budgets for the various branches of county government.

Ryan Rendleman can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 258 or [email protected]

Wendy Weinhold contributed to this report.

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