Dem success signals a new day in Kendall
By Steve Lord firstname.lastname@example.org November 14, 2012 2:38PM
Election judges Pat Brummel and Ron Molchanov (right) get a ballot for Julie Shuler (left) of Yorkville at Kendall Precinct 3 polling place at the Kendall Township Building on Legion Road in Yorkville on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Election day was a good day for Democrats in Kendall County. President Barack Obama came within 2,000 votes of Republican Mitt Romney, and Democrats for the first time won two seats on the Kendall County Board.
Barack Obama (D), 21,219
Mitt Romney (R), 23,076
County Board District 1
(top five are seated)
Judy Gilmour (R), 13,366
Amy Cesich (D), 11,447
John Shaw (R), 10,808
Matthew Prochaska (R), 10,385
John Purcell (R), 10,194
Robert E. Davidson (R), 9,631
County Board District 2
(top five are seated)
Scott Gryder (R), 9,908
Lynn Cullick (R), 9,634
Jeffrey Wehrli (R), 9,482
Dan Koukol (R), 9,417
Elizabeth Flowers (D), 8,858
Jeremy Swanson (R), 8,515
Kristine Heiman (D), 8,394
Evelyn Maxine Givens (D), 7,422
Herman Johnson (D), 6,909
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:30AM
YORKVILLE — Time was, you couldn’t vote for a Democrat in Kendall County if you wanted to.
But few wanted to.
“If you lived here your whole life, it was a mark of shame to be a Democrat,” said Robyn Sutcliff, a former Yorkville alderman who also ran for the County Board once as a Democrat. “I have a friend who always votes for Democrats, but she doesn’t tell the Republican women that. Then again, there often were no Democrats on the ballot.”
That was definitely not the case in Kendall County this time around, as Democrats had arguably one of their best election days in county history. Consider: Democrats won two seats on the Kendall County Board for the first time in history, one candidate in each district.
Democratic candidate Bill Foster carried the eight Kendall precincts in the 11th Congressional District by a wide margin, more than 57 percent of the vote, compared to about 42 percent for his opponent, GOP incumbent Judy Biggert.
Two Democratic state legislative candidates, incumbent State Sen. Linda Holmes and challenger for state representative Stephanie Kifowit, handily won their sections of Kendall County. Holmes garnered about 57 percent of the vote in the eight Kendall precincts in the 42nd Senate District, and Kifowit won about 60 percent in those same precincts in the 84th House District.
Even Barack Obama won about 47 percent of the vote countywide, losing to Mitt Romney, who only got 51 percent. (Obama actually won in Kendall in 2008.).
For some perspective, when Obama won in 2008, it was the first time a non-Republican carried Kendall County for president since Teddy Roosevelt did it with his Bull Moose Party in 1912. Roosevelt had been a Republican, though.
“I was surprised at the showing” in last week’s election, said Chuck Sutcliff, chairman of the Kendall Democratic Party Committee and Robyn Sutcliff’s husband. “I was happy about it, but a little surprised.”
Sutcliff said he had an idea a couple of weeks ago that Kendall’s vote might be a bit different this year when he went to early vote in Yorkville.
“I was surprised at the diversity at the polling place,” he said.
Diversity is one of the main reasons Democrats and Republicans give for the results this year.
It’s well-documented that Kendall County was one of the fastest-growing counties in America during the past 10 years, and many of those new people moving in could be Democrats, or at least independents, with no pre-conceived notions of county politics.
That’s what Democrat Amy Cesich, who was the second-highest vote-getter among candidates in Kendall’s 1st District contest, credited for her success.
Cesich said she worked hard, with a lot of door-to-door campaigning, and said people were willing to give a chance to a Democrat who had a good message.
“We’re not that different,” she said. “We all want the same things.”
Elizabeth Flowers showed that she is developing name recognition, despite having the “D” next to her name. Flowers was the only Democratic incumbent on the County Board, and had announced before the primary this year she was not running again.
She changed her mind, and was slated by the party during the summer. But with just a small bit of campaigning, she won re-election, beating out three other Democrats and a Republican in the 2nd District.
Republicans are taking notice of the Democratic success.
Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy, who also is the county Republican Party Committee chairman, said he was surprised at some of the results.
“The Democrats are hard workers,” he said.
He pointed out that in 1992, about 8 percent of the vote in Illinois was Hispanic. That grew to 12 percent statewide this year, and that vote has grown in Kendall.
“We never did anything in particular to talk to them,” he said.
He also pointed out that in a growing county, running any organization gets tougher as things get bigger. Toftoy remembers when there were only about 25 precincts in the county; now there are 83.
“It’s hard to find 83 people who want to be a precinct committeeman,” he said.
Chuck Sutcliff said he already is working to try to sustain the Democratic success in Kendall. He said while he no longer feels like the “Maytag repairman — the loneliest guy in town,” it will take work to keep it that way.
“When I was watching the returns Tuesday, I looked around and saw new faces all over the place,” he said. “Now we have to carry that enthusiasm forward.”