BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Tuesday’s election marked a changing of party lines on the Vermilion County Board.
Starting with the county’s reorganization meeting — set for Dec. 3 — the Republican Party will hold the board majority for the first time in almost a quarter-century.
Races in five contested county board districts shifted the 27-member board majority to 14-13 in favor of the GOP.
Vermilion County Republican Party Chairman Mike Marron said the GOP last held the majority on the county board in 1988. Since that time it’s been controlled by Democrats through the last five board chairmen.
Unlike legislatures at the state and federal level, Marron said the swing in party control won’t mean a big change for the county board.
“There’s a lot of agreement on the local level,” said Marron, who was elected Tuesday to his first full term as a board member in District 2. “People don’t want to see property taxes raised and want to be fiscally responsible as possible.”
He noted the referendums that passed on Tuesday had received support from both parties prior to the election.
One change that it could signify is a new chairman and vice chairman for the board. Board members will vote to select a new chairman at the Dec. 3 meeting.
“We’re going to have a board chairman and he’s going to have some new fresh ideas and a little different take on things,” he said. “It won’t be anything dramatic.”
Marron said the Republican Party is expected to caucus in a week or so to select a candidate for the chairman’s spot.
Current chairman Jim McMahon has served in that role for the last six years. He said the final decision for chairman falls to the board members.
“They can pick anyone,” he said, “or they can pick me and say continue what you’ve done with no tax increases. Continue what you’ve done to put us in this position.”
McMahon, who has been on the county board since 2003, said he would be “lying to say I’m not disappointed” at the prospect of stepping down, given the issues facing the county.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge moving forward,” he said. “I wish I could be the one driving the train to make sure it stays on a good track.”