Late totals, but interesting legislative races emerging in DuPage County
A technical snag delayed the reporting of results in DuPage County hours after the polls closed Tuesday, making it difficult to call or sense a trend among several state legislative races in the area.
But unofficial results shortly before midnight Tuesday suggested some tight contests among incumbents and their challengers that will be races to watch in the upcoming days or weeks.
Deputy County Clerk Adam Johnson said technical problem prevented the clerk's office from updating its website until late Tuesday. With 926 of 930 county precincts reporting Election Day tallies, and a portion of early and mail-in ballots counted, it was too early to draw conclusions on any particular race.
The unofficial tallies reported so far also don't account for as many as 338,000 outstanding mail-in ballots in the suburbs, including 50,504 that have yet to be returned in DuPage County, according to the State Board of Elections. Ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be counted if they arrive by Nov. 17.
However, in state House District 41, Democrat Janet Yang Rohr, a Naperville Unit District 203 school board member, appeared to be inching ahead of established incumbent Grant Wehrli, a Naperville Republican.
Yang Rohr received 26,084 votes to Wehrli's 25,932, leaving a margin of 152 votes separating the two candidates, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting in DuPage and Will counties.
Wehrli has served as representative since 2014 and was named assistant minority leader in 2018. The former Naperville City Councilman pointed to his willingness to reach across the aisle and his track record of voting for what best represents the district, rather than following party lines.
Yang Rohr said she believes House District 41 needs a fresh start. She promised to defend women's rights and support better access to health care, while also protecting the middle class and retirees.
In House District 42, Democratic challenger Ken Mejia-Beal of Lisle seemed to be falling behind freshman state Rep. Amy Grant, despite a controversy that put the Wheaton Republican in the hot seat during the campaign.
With all precincts reporting Tuesday, unofficial tallies showed Grant with 26,662 votes, compared to Mejia-Beal's 22,660.
Early in the campaign, Democratic lawmakers released snippets from a recorded phone call in which Grant can be heard referencing the race and sexual orientation of Mejia-Beal, who is gay and Black. Grant apologized for what she said was a "very clumsy and insensitive statement that does not reflect how I feel." The disparaging comments were taken from a conversation between Grant and an unknown caller.
Meanwhile, with all precincts reporting late Tuesday, only a handful of votes separated the candidates vying for state Senate District 25. Democrat Karina Villa had 55,359 votes, while Republican Jeanette Ward received 55,341, unofficial tallies showed.
The current state representative for the 49th House District, Villa says the rising cost of living, health care, medication, property taxes and lack of low-income housing are the top issues for constituents. As a former social worker and West Chicago District 33 school board member, she says more equitable school funding could help the state keep taxes down.
Ward previously served a term on the Elgin Area School District U-46 school board and lost a reelection bid in 2019. She said voters are most concerned about corruption in Springfield, pointing to "sorely needed" ethics reform in light of the recent ComEd bribery scandal.
The state House District 81 race was too close to call, as well, though Republican Laura Hois was narrowly inching ahead of freshman state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, a Naperville Democrat.
With 99% of the precincts reporting in DuPage County, and all precincts reporting in Will, early results showed Hois of Glen Ellyn with 25,359 votes, compared to Stava-Murray's 24,855.
Tackling the state's ongoing budget crisis is a priority for Stava-Murray, who said more programs should be implemented to help struggling businesses and families rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. If elected to a second term, she also hopes to fight climate change and maintain the momentum of the civil rights movement, saying "there's a lot of work left to be done."
Hois said her primary goal would be to address a "tax-and-spend-cycle" that she says is dragging Illinois into further debt. She wants to enact reforms to address the budget deficit and unfunded pension liabilities, which she believes could help curb the out-migration of state residents.
In House District 47, Republican incumbent Deanne Mazzochi appeared to take an early lead over Democrat Jennifer Zordani. Republican Seth Lewis appeared to defeat one-term incumbent Diane Pappas in House District 45.
Unofficial tallies showed Democratic incumbent Kathleen Willis ahead of Republican Anthony Airdo in House District 77 and Democrat Michelle Mussman slightly ahead of Republican Scott Kegarise in House District 56.