Metro-East News

Here’s a look at how Democrats and Republicans fared in Madison and St. Clair counties

Why local voters turned out for election

People who cast ballots at Signal Hill School in West Belleville talk about what motivated them to vote in the midterm election. Many feel voting is a right, privilege or duty. Others want change for America.
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People who cast ballots at Signal Hill School in West Belleville talk about what motivated them to vote in the midterm election. Many feel voting is a right, privilege or duty. Others want change for America.

Minor shifts in the Madison and St. Clair county boards didn’t change any party majorities, but Election Night 2018 flipped multiple seats and toppled some long-standing board members to newcomers.

Democrats continued to fare well in St. Clair County as predicted while Republicans kept their hold on the nearly equally split Madison County Board.

Democrats have kept a solid majority on the St. Clair County Board for decades, while Madison County flipped Republican in the 2016 presidential elections after years of Democrat majority.

Both counties saw an increase in voter participation from the last midterm elections in 2014. St. Clair County saw 52 voter turnout, compared to 45 percent in the 2014 midterms. Madison County 58 percent voter turnout, compared to 45 percent in 2014.

Here’s a look at how Republicans and Democrats fared at the county level. For a full list of St. Clair County, Madison County and other election results, visit the BND’s election homepage at https://bit.ly/2DrkyNZ.

St. Clair County

Democrats increased their majority over GOP board members by one seat after Tuesday night’s elections, bringing their totals to 21 seats for Democrats and eight seats for Republicans. The GOP previously held nine seats on the board.

Longtime District 21 Democratic board member Frank “F.X.” Heiligenstein of Freeburg lost his seat to Bert “Dean” Pruett, a Republican also from Freeburg.

Heiligenstein, 77, represented the rural district for 42 years.

“I had a ‘D’ behind my name. People are out voting change for the sake of change,” Heiligenstein said. “The ‘R’s’ really racked up some good votes out here in the outer county. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.”

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Former St. Clair County Board Member Frank “F.X.” Heiligenstein poses with his St. Louis Cardinals-themed prosthetic leg. Heiligenstein had his leg amputated because of complications with diabetes. Provided

But for the one seat gained by a Republican, the GOP lost one to Democratic newcomer Richie Meile of O’Fallon, who garnered 52 percent of the vote in District 23 against Republican incumbent Fred Boch.

The rural District 19, which includes parts of Shiloh, also flipped from Republican to Democrat. Republican C. David Tiedemann chose not to run for re-election, leaving the seat up for grabs between Democrat Jana Armstrong Moll and Republican Daniel J. Weidenbenner. Moll won with 51 percent of the vote.

Democrats held on to District 28 after Joseph Kassly decided not to run for re-election. Scott Greenwald, a Democrat from Fairview Heights, won that seat with 56 percent of the votes over his Republican challenger, Kurt Schutz.

Republicans kept District 7 after Republican Bryan Bingel decided not to run again. Republican Ed Cockrell, who previously served on the board, handily won the seat with 72 percent of the vote over Democratic candidate Melinda “Mindy” Schneidewind.

District 18 also stayed in GOP control after Matthew Smallheer of O’Fallon won his uncontested race. Republican board member Craig Hubbard did not seek re-election this year.

Despite an at times problematic campaign, Democratic Sheriff Rick Watson managed to hold onto his post with 53 percent of the vote over Republican challenger Nick Gailius. St. Clair County voters cast 55,060 votes for Watson and 41,401 votes for Gailius.

Complaints about Watson’s pension surfaced, he endured a campaign gaffe involving a mailer, and a county worker resigned after it became clear she was doing campaign work for Watson on county time.

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Richard “Rick” Watson Provided

St. Clair County still trended Democratic in statewide races, with 49 percent of the vote going to Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker and 44 percent going to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. In the Congressional race between incumbent Republican Mike Bost and Democrat Brendan Kelly, St. Clair County voters went 51 percent in favor of Kelly and 45 percent in favor of Bost, a difference of roughly 6,000 votes.

Madison County

The GOP managed to keep a slim hold of their majority on the board with 15 seats versus 14 Democratic seats. The Republicans previously held 15 seats with one Independent seat and 13 Democratic seats.

With a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans, the board has made bipartisan achievements over the past two years, County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.

“Our significant accomplishment was that a lot of our accomplishments have been bipartisan,” Prenzler said.

Reducing the county levy, approving money for a jail renovation project and promoting job growth in the American Bottoms are among those achievements, the chairman said.

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Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler BND file photo

Republicans still remained popular in most of their districts. Republican board member Dalton Gray kept hold of his seat in District 11 with 63 percent of the vote. Gray was appointed in May after Republican Brad Maxwell vacated the seat to take a job leading the U.S. Marshals Service in Southern Illinois.

But incumbent Republican James Futrell of Alton lost his District 13 seat to Democrat Matthew King, who won with 51 percent of the vote.

Democrats also gained a seat when Robert Pollard, formerly an Independent, ran uncontested as a Democrat in Tuesday’s elections.

The Independent party still had a chance to win in the race between Susan Presswood, an Independent from Granite City, and Chris Hankins, a Democrat from Pontoon Beach. But Hankins, who was nominated after the unexpected death of incumbent Democrat Helen Hawkins, won the seat with 60 percent of the vote.

In a change for the mostly Democratic Granite City area, longtime Democratic board member Arthur Asadorian lost his seat to Republican newcomer John “Eric” Foster.

Republican incumbents Mick Madison, Raymond Wesley, Tom McRae, Clint Jones and Chrissy Dutton all held onto their seats in contested elections.

Dutton spearheaded an effort to eliminate the Recorder of Deeds position and merge the Recorder’s office with the County Clerk’s office, an effort that was successful in the polls Tuesday with 64 percent of voters casting their ballots in favor of the measure. Eliminating Recorder Amy Meyer’s salary could save the county at least $100,000.

Dutton said passing the ballot measure was a bipartisan effort to the reduce the size of government.

“It passed through three bipartisan committees and then getting it to the full board, where it passed 21 to six,” Dutton said. “The board gave the power to the people to decide was important, and they did.”

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Chrissy Dutton Provided

Incumbent Democrats Bruce Malone and Elizabeth Dalton held onto their seats in contested elections.

Only one seat was up for grabs between Republican and Democratic candidates—the seat vacated by Collinsville Republican Lisa Ciampoli, who decided not to run again.

Republican Chris Guy of Maryville won that seat for the GOP with 56 percent of the vote against Maryville Democrat Michael Bartsch.

It was a mixed bag in countywide elections with incumbent Democratic County Clerk Debbie Ming-Mendoza defeating Stephen Adler with 53 percent of the vote. Republican incumbent Treasurer Chris Slusser kept his seat, too, with 55 percent of the vote.

Madison County trended slightly more Republican in the governor’s race, with 47 percent voting for Rauner and 45 percent voting for Pritzker. Kelly won a 51 percent majority in Madison County, but Republican 13th Congressional District incumbent Rodney Davis won 53 percent over his challenger in the county.

Reporter Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis
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