Election 2022: Democrats to take DeKalb County Board majority, ousting 3 Republican incumbents, if results hold

Mary Lee Cozad, Democratic candidate for DeKalb County Board District 10, celebrates as some election returns are announced Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, during an election night watch party at River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb.

DeKALB – With 100% precincts reporting Tuesday, DeKalb County Board unofficial election results show three Republican incumbents are likely ousted from their seats, while the board’s majority appears set to go to the Democrats.

A 10:30 a.m. Wednesday news release from the DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder’s Office announced that mail-in ballot tallies had not been added to Tuesday night’s results totals. An updated tally count shows District 4′s Republican incumbent Laurie Emmer was ousted from her seat, giving the Democrats full control over the district, if unofficial results hold.

According to the latest election results, Democrats appeared set to take six districts, with Republicans appeared to take four, while two districts are set to have bipartisan representation.

All 24 seats on the DeKalb County Board were up for reelection, as newly redrawn seats faced off in seven contested races. Two members of the board are elected from each of the county’s 12 districts. Five districts – Districts 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9 – only had two candidates on the ballot, meaning those 10 candidates are guaranteed to be elected.

According to updated vote tallies with all precincts reporting, Democrats appeared set to grab 14 County Board seats, leaving Republicans with 10.

Contested races in seven of the board’s districts determined the composition of the 14 other seats, and in many feature newcomers who are mostly Democrats.

Election results won’t be certified for two weeks, according to the DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

A hot issue top of mind during this year’s campaign season was a July 21 DeKalb County Board vote to move forward with a sale of the financially struggling DeKalb County Rehabilitation and Nursing Center for more than $8.3 million to Evanston-based Illuminate HC, a private health care company that specializes in operating skilled nursing facilities.

The DeKalb County rehab center, a county-owned facility, is more than $7 million in debt due to delinquent billing, falling resident numbers and what officials have said was unrealized mismanagement. Issues of its financial failings came to light in March 2021, county officials have said.

The following are results as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.

District 1

Republican incumbent Maureen Little appeared to be the top vote-getter in the race for District 1 with 58%, or 2,319 votes. Republican newcomer Bradley Robert Belander held 1,370 votes, followed by Democrat Fredrick (Fred) Hall with 1,329 votes.

District 1 includes Franklin Township, Kingston, South Grove, Mayfield and Malta Townships.

District 3

Republican incumbent Tim Bagby appeared to be the top vote-getter, with 1,973 votes, or 27%, followed by Democratic newcomer Amber Quitno, who ran an unsuccessful County Board campaign in 2020 but came back this election with 1,876 votes, or 25%. Republican newcomer Keegan C. Reynolds appeared to be edged out with 1,467 votes.

Head of the DeKalb County Republican Party, Bagby ran to retain his seat on the County Board in District 3. The district includes a portion of Sycamore Township that is mostly south of Peace Road and north of Route 64.

District 4

Four candidates – Republican Elizabeth Lundeen, Democrat Stewart Ogilvie, Republican incumbent Laurie Emmer and Democrat Brett Johansen – ran for the two seats allocated to District 4.

The district includes a portion of Sycamore Township that is mostly south of Route 64, along with a portion of Cortland Township north of Bethany Road.

Ogilvie appeared to be the top vote-getter, with 26%, or 1,785 votes, followed by Johansen – who prior to mail-in ballots added was fourth int he race – with 1,693 votes. Emmer’s reelection bid was unsuccessful, if results hold, garnering 1,655 votes, followed by Lundeen’s 1,575 votes.

“Well, so far so good. Still, fingers crossed. It’s not finalized yet,” Ogilvie said at 9:07 p.m. from the Democrat watch party held at River Heights Golf Course.

Asked if the early election results had invigorated him, Ogilvie said he actually felt “somewhat surprised.”

“I’m just hoping and praying that all goes well and I get the opportunity to give back to the community that’s been, you know, so nice to me and my son since we’ve been here. So, yeah, that’s all I’m hoping for,” Ogilvie said.

With the results of the 2022 election still to be determined, Ogilvie said he’ll probably sleep a little less than normal – at least until the results are finalized.

Democrat Stewart Ogilvie, (right) DeKalb County Board candidate for District 4, talks to DeKalb County Democratic Party chairman Anna Wilhelmi Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, during an election night watch party at River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb.

District 8

Two District 8 Republican incumbents, Bill Cummings and Dianne Leifheit, appeared to be ousted by voters Tuesday, flipping the district to the Democrats, with incumbent Michelle Pickett and Chris Porterfield, a former board member who was edged out of his seat by Cummings in 2020.

District 8 includes a portion of northeast DeKalb Township that is east of Glidden Road.

Chris Porterfield appeared to receive the most votes with 1,720 votes, or 33%. That was followed by Pickett with 1,557 votes, or 30%. Cummings and Leifheit fell short, according to uinofficial results, with Cummings’ 1,238 votes and Leifheit’s 1,208 votes.

“I’m very excited. I’m thrilled that it looks like I’m going to get back on the board,” Porterfield said Tuesday night.

In 2020, Porterfield was ousted from the County Board by Cummings after six years of service. Two years later, Porterfield returned the favor.

“Bill and I have talked several times,” Porterfield said. “He’s a good guy. He’s a real good guy. And I’m very happy with these results, and I’m sure he’ll be looking to the future. He may beat me two years from now.”

Democrat Christopher Porterfield, (right) DeKalb County Board candidate for District 8, checks election results on his phone Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, during an election night watch party at River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb.

District 10

Republican Susan Smith Lindell, incumbent Democrat Mary Lee Cozad and incumbent Democrat Suzanne Willis – who’s also vice chairman of the DeKalb County Board – ran for District 10′s two seats.

District 10 includes the southwest portion of DeKalb Township that is north of Fairview Drive, south of Lincoln Highway and mostly west of Route 23/Fourth Street.

According to unofficial results, Cozad appeared to be the top vote-getter, with 1,789 votes, or 35%, followed by fellow incumbent and board vice chairwoman Willis with 1,414 votes, or 27%, edging out Lindell’s 1,144 votes.

District 11

Democrat Shell (Celeste) DeYoung Dunn, Republican incumbent Roy Plote and Republican incumbent Karen Cribben ran for DeKalb County Board District 11.

District 11 includes all of Milan, Shabbona, Paw Paw, Victor, Clinton and Squaw Grove Townships, as well as Afton and Pierce Townships south of Perry Road, Somonauk Township west of Governor Beveridge Highway and north of Chicago Road, and Sandwich Township north of Chicago Road.

Cribben appeared to be the top vote-getter, with 2,497 votes, or 40%, followed by Plote with 1,580 votes, or 25%, leaving short DeYoung Dunn’s campaign with 1,085 votes.

Speaking at the Democrat watch party Tuesday night, DeYoung Dunn said District 11 is “very, very heavily Republican,” so she knew her campaign was facing an “uphill battle.”

“I wasn’t really going into this with expectations of winning because they’ve been incumbents for a long time. They’ve got name recognition,” DeYoung Dunn said. “So, I just kind of was going in as an unknown factor, and I actually got an awful lot of votes, which is a good sign. So, you haven’t heard the last of me.”

District 12

Democrat Jeff Kowalski appeared to run a failed but to oust two Republican incumbents for a chance to represent District 12, as Jerry Osland and County Board Chairman John Frieders were the top vote getters, according to unofficial election results.

Their district includes Somonauk Township east of Governor Beveridge Highway and Sandwich Township south of Chicago Road.

Frieders received 1,820 votes or 47%, followed by Osland with 1,674 votes, or 43%, compared to Kowalski’s 1,199 votes.

DeKalb County Board Chairman John Frieders calls on members of the audience who would like to speak during public comment at the DeKalb County Board's Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at the DeKalb County Legislative Center in Sycamore.

Speaking at the Republican election night watch party at El Jimador, Frieders said the early results – which initially showed at least four Republicans losing reelection bids – kind of worried DeKalb County Republicans, but that worry was abetted as more results came in.

Asked how he felt about his time as chairman of the County Board, Frieders said he feels good about it.

“I think things went well, and I’m pleased with the support I received with the whole County Board, and I’m very happy with it,” Frieders said.

Uncontested County Board races

Several races were uncontested for the DeKalb County Board Tuesday, guaranteeing candidates a seat on the newly-formed board.

District 2: Republican incumbent Kathy Lampkins and Republican incumbent Patrick Deutsch

District 5: Republican Savannah Ilenikhena and Democrat Benjamin Haier

District 6: Democrat incumbent Rukisha Crawford and Democrat Meryl Domina

District 7: Democrat incumbent Scott Campbell and Democrat incumbent Terri Mann-Lamb

District 9: Democrat incumbent Ellingsworth Webb and Democrat incumbent Jim Luebke

Because of those uncontested races, Democrats went into election night knowing at least seven of the 24 County Board seats will be within their party’s control. Republicans, accordingly, knew at least three seats would be under their control.

This story was updated at 12:58 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. An additinoal update occurred at 11:10 a.m. Nov. 6, 2022 after mail-in ballots were added to the tally Wednesday morning, according to an update from the DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

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