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Tazewell County roundup: Race for a board seat still too close to call

Two "Vote Here" sandwich boards stand outside the polling place at East Peoria City Hall on Tuesday.
Joe Deacon
Two "Vote Here" sandwich boards stand outside the polling place at East Peoria City Hall on Tuesday.

Tazewell County is on track to have five new county board members in December, but it's unclear which of two incumbents will return.

Unofficial results posted on the county’s election website Tuesday showed incumbent District 3 board member Tammy Rich-Stimson leading current vice-chair Mike Harris by just one vote, leaving the race too close to call.

Voters also selected a new auditor, passed a funding measure for Tremont schools, and a approved new monument to three Civil War veterans.

While Republicans had contested races for auditor and in board districts 2 and 3, there were no candidates on the Democratic ballots. So Tuesday’s winners are likely to go into the general election unchallenged.

County board elections

Presumptive Tazewell County board chairman Brett Grimm figures to join Eric Schmidgall, Eric Stahl, Cathryn Stump and Ralph Milam as new members.

Among a field of four candidates for three District 3 seats, Schmidgall topped a field of three incumbents with 29.7% of the vote in the GOP primary, with Bill Atkins placing second at 25.4%. Rich-Stimson and Harris each had 22.5%, with Stimson holding the slim vote lead of 1,733-1,732.

In District 2, Stahl and Stump will join recently appointed member Jon Hopkins on the board. Stahl topped the field with 28.6%, followed by Hopkins at 25.8%. Stump secured the last spot with 23.3% to finish ahead of Karl Lutz (22.3%).

In District 1, incumbent Jay Hall (55%) and Milam (45%) were the only two candidates for three seats, resulting in both getting elected and leaving one vacancy on the board.

Grimm, the current county auditor, did not face any challengers in his bid for county board chair, a position being vacated with Dave Zimmerman not running for another term.

Funkhouser wins auditor race

William Funkhouser of Morton won the GOP nomination to follow Brett Grimm as Tazewell County’s auditor.

Funkhouser, a certified public accountant and Bradley University faculty member, earned 67% of the vote in his race against current District 1 board member Kaden Nelms of Pekin.

Funkhouser has said his goals as auditor are to improve professionalism and efficiency in the office.

Nelms still has two years remaining on his county board term.

Tremont schools referendum passes

Voters approved a 0.4% increase of the limiting rate for Tremont Community Unit School District 702, a move aimed at generating $700,000 in revenue for educational programs and other operations.

Unofficial results show the referendum receiving 66% of yes votes, with high turnout at 32% of nearly 3,700 registered voters.

With bonds from a 2007 Tremont High School project getting paid off over the next two years, the district’s current bond rate is projected to drop nearly 0.8% by 2026. Even with the limiting rate increase, taxes are projected to decrease slightly.

Superintendent Sean Berry said the increase of the limiting rate would bolster the education fund, allowing the district to restore programs cut in lean years.

Berry said the increase provides an opportunity to replenish a fund that has shown a deficit in 14 of the last 20 years. He said the education fund accounts for 80% of the district’s budget.

Soldier monument easily approved

A proposal to build a monument celebrating three Civil War soldiers from Tazewell County who received the Medal of Honor garnered overwhelming support at 85% – more than 10,000 votes.

Plans call for an 8-foot black granite obelisk honoring Dr. Thomas C. Murphy, William Reed, and John Ayres to be erected near the Veterans’ Memorial on the Tazewell County Courthouse grounds.

Cost of the monument is estimated at $80,000. The referendum requires the county board to fund the monument within one year.

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.