Will County Board will look quite different after 2022 election

The next board elected will have fewer members, and several incumbents are not running for re-election

Will County Board meet fully in person for the first time in nearly two years at the Will County Office Building. Thursday, Mar. 17, 2022, in Joliet.

The Will County Board will look very different after the 2022 election, almost no matter which party wins the majority.

Not only will the structure of the board change following the approval of a new map with fewer districts, but several sitting members, including two in leadership, are not running for re-election.

Last year, the Democratic majority on the board passed a revamped district map, over the stern objections of Republican members.

The new map includes 11 district, two fewer than the existing map. Since each district is represented by two members, the total number of board members will decrease from 26 to 22.

The debate over whether or not to change the structure of the board was perhaps the most contentious between the two parties last year. Democrats have held a 14-12 majority since the 2018 election.

Democratic members argued reducing the size of the board would lead to a more efficient government, especially during meetings.

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Some Republicans asserted the Democratic caucus only wanted to decrease the board’s size in order to increase members’ salaries. That idea did not come to fruition as the board voted to keep their base pay at $23,000 per year.

Another notable change will be the 10 members who chose not to run for re-election this year: Speaker Mimi Cowan, D-Naperville; Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen; Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort; Amanda Koch, D-Frankfort; Gretchen Fritz, R-Plainfield; Don Gould, R-Shorewood; Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet; Tyler Marcum, D-Joliet; Tom Weigel, R-New Lenox; and Debbie Kraulidis, R-Joliet.

Fritz and Ventura are running for other positions in this year’s election.

Cowan was elected in 2018 and rose to become speaker in 2020 after Denise Winfrey, D-Joliet, resigned her seat and the speakership to be the interim county executive following the death of Larry Walsh Sr.

In a Facebook post, Cowan said while she’s not running for re-election, she’s learned much about local government and her community.

“We’ve done a lot of good things in three and a half years, many of which would not have happened if it hadn’t been for our narrow Democratic majority,” she wrote. “It’s my goal to support Democrats up and down the ballot and help retain Democratic control of the Will County Board in 2022.”

Jim Moustis at the Will County board meeting at the Will County Office Building. Thursday, Mar. 17, 2022, in Joliet.

Moustis is the longest-serving member of those forfeiting their seats. He was first elected in 1992 and has twice served as speaker.

“Quite honestly I never thought I would stay this long,” he said. “But there gets to be a point where it’s time for the next generation to step up and start taking over, and I feel this is that time.”

Moustis, who is also the supervisor of Frankfort Township, added he wanted to spend a little more leisure time in retirement. When asked about the degree of institutional knowledge the board will lose with his departure, he said he would still be available to sitting members who want a history lesson about county government.

“People can call me anytime,” he said.

The Illinois primary election is set for June 28.