Greg Hart won the Republican nomination for DuPage County Board chair Tuesday, easily defeating his primary adversary for the chance to replace Dan Cronin in the top executive post.
The GOP establishment’s preferred candidate prevailed in a closely watched primary race against fellow board member Pete DiCianni.
Hart garnered 37,902 votes, or 59.8% of the total, compared to DiCianni’s 25,467 votes, unofficial results showed late Tuesday.
Hart, 34, will now turn his attention to a general election contest against Deb Conroy, a Villa Park Democrat who’s established strong name recognition and fundraising ability as a state lawmaker for the past decade. Conroy had no primary opponent.
The Conroy-Hart race is shaping up as a test of Democratic staying power versus Republican resilience in DuPage. The county has been turning a bluer shade of purple in recent elections.
“I think if there’s one thing that all voters, Republican, independent, Democrat, are looking for right now is a new, fresh, innovative approach to government,” Hart said during his primary campaign.
Whoever wins in November will fill the seat held by Cronin for 12 years. The Elmhurst Republican decided not to run for reelection after three terms.
Hart, a management consultant from Hinsdale, enjoyed support from Cronin, DuPage Sheriff James Mendrick, former Illinois House Speaker Lee Daniels and other GOP luminaries.
“We really have been an example of good government in a state that desperately needs one. But that will only continue with the right ethical and forward-thinking leadership,” Hart said.
DiCianni, a former Elmhurst mayor, cast himself as the more experienced candidate. But Hart has quickly grown political chops, ascending from a board appointee to his first full term to the GOP nominee for the chairman’s seat in just five years.
As chairman, Hart said he would hold the line on taxes and continue to focus on “innovative programs” to combat overdoses in DuPage. Hart co-chairs a county opioid task force that provides grant funding for addiction treatment, harm reduction and job training programs.
“We can’t solve this problem unless we get people who are struggling with addiction into treatment and into programs that are going to help them stay in treatment,” he said.
DiCianni gave up his District 2 seat on the county board to make a run for chairman. He was first elected to the board in 2012. DiCianni did well in parts of Addison and York townships in northeastern DuPage, according to precinct-by-precinct results.
But Hart jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.