Challenger Tim Hoeft was leading by just 59 votes over incumbent Chuck Sass in the race to become the next mayor of Huntley, potentially unseating Sass after a 20-year reign as mayor, according to preliminary election data posted just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night. With votes still coming in, the race remained too close to call.
Hoeft, a current Huntley village trustee, garnered 51.2% of the vote to Sass’ 48.8%, as of late Tuesday night. Hoeft said Tuesday that there is nothing left to do but wait to see what the will of Huntley voters will be when the final votes are tallied and certified.
Mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day have two weeks to arrive at the McHenry County Clerk’s Office and still be counted. Provisionally cast ballots could also still be added to the totals.
“It’s going to be whoever put the most effort in and worked and got to the voters,” Hoeft said. “I’m feeling pretty confident, but I don’t want to be overly confident.”
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Sass said he felt a mix of nervousness and optimism, adding he hopes Huntley voters got out and exercised their right to weigh in on who will become their next mayor.
“I’m a competitor,” he said. “I don’t think anybody likes to lose, but [either way] I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished over 24 years – four years as trustee and then 20 years as mayor.”
Preliminary totals in the race for the Huntley Village Board of Trustees showed incumbent Ronda Goldman leading the pack with 23% of the vote, with fellow incumbent JR Westberg not far behind with 22.1%. Challenger Mary Holzkopf followed with 19.8%, incumbent John Piwko had 19.2% and newcomer Burt Natkins garnered 15.9% of the vote.
The five candidates are vying for three open seats on the Village Board and, with more votes still to be counted, it is anybody’s game.
Sass said he and Westberg have plans to watch the results roll in together, checking the computer regularly as they sit around a fire pit to “enjoy the nice weather outside.”
Hoeft said he too planned a small Election night get-together with family and close friends who have supported him throughout the race.
All in all, Hoeft said he is proud of the way that he and Sass handled working together and running against one another over the last handful of months.
“It was a good race, and I’m so appreciative of how each of us stayed professional through it,” he said.
If Hoeft is not elected, he said he will gladly continue serving Huntley residents as their trustee and does not have any qualms about working under his opponent.
“No matter what happens tonight, I don’t see things changing as far as how that relationship works or how things are handled,” he said.
Regardless of what the final results are, the future looks bright for the village, Sass said.
“I’m very proud of what we were and what we’ve grown into,” he said. “We’ll continue to grow. It’s a great village, great people. Sky’s the limit for Huntley.”