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GOP keeps control over Lake County Board


Sandra Hart

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Updated: December 9, 2012 7:35PM

There were few surprises in the election for the Lake County Board on Tuesday in which all nine incumbents in 12 contested races comfortably survived challenges.

Democrats on the board are still in the minority. They now hold eight of 21 total seats, a net loss despite wins by Democratic newcomers Sandra Hart of Lake Bluff in District 13 and Steven Mandel, a Highland Park city councilman, in District 11.

Redistricting cut the number of seats from 23 to 21, lumping a portion of reliably Democratic Highland Park in with Lake Forest and Deerfield in District 12.

Hart’s defeat of seasoned politician David Barkhausen of Lake Bluff was a jolt, especially to those who hadn’t been paying attention. A fresh-faced PTO mom with an MBA, experience in tax assessments, and who was endorsed by her Republican predecessor, the retiring Susan Gravenhorst, Hart sliced by former state Sen. David Barkhausen with a margin of 6 percent.

Neither Lake County Board President David Stolman of Buffalo Grove, nor Pete Couvall of Waukegan, vice-chair of the Lake County Democratic Party, could recall when District 13, which encompasses Lake Bluff and finger-shaped unincorporated areas, was represented by a Democrat on the County Board.

“Redistricting made it tough for Democrats to pick up any new seats,” Couvall said. “But we surprised them with this one. We beat Barkhausen.”

While Couvall said the redrawn County Board map amounts to less representation for a growing county, Stolman called it “a golden opportunity to contain costs.”

Stolman, a Republican, downplayed the role of partisan politics on the board.

“Very few issues that come up are political and we try to minimize those to find common ground,” Stolman said. “There is an R or D behind someone’s name, but for the most part it’s (about) governance.

“We’re charged with a responsibility of providing goods and services to the population of 714,000 people throughout Lake County in an equal, reasonable fashion and that gets everything done in a comprehensive, efficient way,” he added. “And we do all that for seven cents on the dollar.”

New board members also include Republican Tom Weber of Lake Villa who will represent District 13 and Republican and former Lake Forest Mayor Mike Rummel representing a reconfigured District 12.

Board members will be sworn in after regular meetings on Dec. 3. A new member session will be held Nov. 12.

Stolman cited ongoing issues including economic development — “making sure we have shovel ready sites so we’re four steps ahead of whatever economic turnaround there is” — and highway construction projects, including the Milwaukee Avenue extension and Millburn bypass that the county has taken on in the face of state insolvency.

“We’re expecting everybody to hit the ground running,” Stolman said.

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