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Infusion of party resources fails to bring big blue wave as Republicans relish results

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Illinois Democrats and their financial backers spent big – much more than Republicans – on races for statehouse districts that include portions of McHenry County in this month’s election, but ultimately failed to flip more than one area seat.

“I think this election showed a lot of the electorate agreed with Republican values and policies, and we don’t necessarily have to spend as much if we’re strong on the policy,” McHenry County Republican Party Chairman Tyler Wilke said.

Despite Republican campaigns being at a huge fundraising disadvantage to Democrats in the three races for the statehouse seats representing the southeast corner of McHenry County, the GOP still put in more effort to hang onto those three local state offices than it has in the past, McHenry County Democratic Party Chairwoman Kristina Zahorik said.

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Republican Martin McLaughlin, who handily won election to the District 52 seat over Democratic challenger Marci Suelzer and Green Party candidate Alia Sarfraz, said he thinks the varied geography of his supporters shows there is a conservative tilt among voters in the region visible across jurisdictional boundaries.

McLaughlin earned more votes than Suelzer in each of the four counties – McHenry, Lake, Cook and Kane – that make up his district.

“That’s a good sign that our message cut across the main street communities in the 52nd (House District) and the bedroom communities, and all different kinds of economic and social metrics,” McLaughlin said.

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The opening of the Longmeadow Parkway toll bridge inched forward Tuesday as a Kane County Board committee gave preliminary approval to a multimillion-dollar contract that locks in two discount programs for frequent users.

Even with the discounts, board representatives from the area where the tollway will be located are still not pleased with the project.

The board’s transportation committee voted to give a $7.8 million contract to Texas-based Electronic Transactions Consultants Corp. The company, whose primary owners are based in Italy, would oversee the discount program and manage customer accounts and communication.

The contract is a six-year deal with possible extensions that could see it last up to 10 years. The $7.8 million reflects the full 10-year cost of the pending agreement.

Tolls for most cars will be 95 cents per trip on the bridge over the Fox River. It’s the only bridge over the river in the county that would charge a toll.

Frequent users of the Longmeadow Parkway toll bridge can take advantage of one of two discount programs, depending on where they live.

Read more here.

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Suburban voters already have reportedly cast more than 266,000 early or mail-in ballots ahead of the Nov. 3rd presidential election, with early voting slated to expand across the region starting today.

County clerks are ramping up early voting today, with 17 sites available in Lake County, 11 in McHenry and more than 50 in suburban Cook. Kane County offers seven permanent early voting sites, eight alternative sites and various mobile locations starting today through Oct. 28th.

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After complaints from some suburban and downstate officials seeking greater local control in fighting the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday said he would divide Illinois into smaller regions under his reopening plan, separating Chicago and suburban Cook County from other areas not hit as hard by the pandemic.

The governor’s move comes as the state reported another 1,187 coronavirus cases and eight additional deaths from COVID-19. It’s the fourth time this month that the daily caseload has topped the 1,000 mark. The rolling seven-day positivity rate – the percent of positive cases among those newly tested – also crept up to 3.1%, from 2.6% less than a week ago.

The newly reshuffled reopening plan is based on the 11 regions in the state’s Emergency Medical Service regions that are used by state public health officials. Chicago’s collar counties will also be divided into three separate regions under the governor’s updated plan.

The Chicago Democrat cast the retooling as part of a “a more granular approach in this phase of the response to COVID-19.”

Pritzker said the new, smaller regions will give the state more flexibility to combat coronavirus if a locality experiences an outbreak, “to carefully, but deliberately — depending on the severity of the situation — control the spread of the virus while continuing to allow a region to be open to the greatest extent possible.”

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Beginning tomorrow, July 8th, Bolz Road will be closed to traffic between Sandbloom Road and the entrance to the stone quarry for 8 to 10 weeks, weather permitting, to allow construction crews to safely and efficiently construct the new Bolz Road roadway realignment and install new watermain and storm sewer. Traffic will be routed around Bolz Road using Sandbloom Road, IL 62 and IL 25 as shown below:

Motorist are advised to watch for construction workers, construction vehicles entering or leaving the closed roadway, and obey flaggers and other traffic control devices bordering the work zone.

The full KDOT press release can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Work to rehabilitate the Higgins Road (Route 72) bridge over the Fox River in East and West Dundee is set to begin Thursday, July 9, weather permitting, the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

Higgins Road from Third Street to River Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction, with lane widths reduced to 10.3 feet. In addition, left turns from Higgins Road onto Water and River streets will not be allowed. A recommended alternate route is Van Buren Street.

Access to businesses within the work zone will be maintained during construction.

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Illinois has been divided into four different regions that can progress through the phases of reopening the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders in DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties argue their communities should not be on the same timeline as suburban Cook County and the city of Chicago.

A push intensified Tuesday to let the collar counties progress separately from Cook and Chicago toward Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 bench marks for reopening the economy.

Leaders representing DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties called on Pritzker to remove their areas from the Northeast region under the Restore Illinois plan, which also includes Cook, Grundy, Lake, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties.

County leaders, mayors and at least one state representative say the coronavirus situation in their communities is much different from what it is in Cook County and Chicago, where the high concentrations of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred.

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JB Pritzker’s ten-page plan of, “A Public Health Approach To Safely Reopen Our State,” can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Editorial note: According to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 28 people in all of zip code 60010 (population 46,350 in 2017) have tested positive.

Zip code 60010

Slightly more than 4% of the residents of suburban Cook County and the five collar counties who tested positive for the coronavirus have died.

Of the 11,745 people who contracted the disease in suburban Cook County and in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, 473 have died as of Tuesday. That’s more than half the deaths statewide, according to the most recent data from health departments in each of those counties and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The suburban death rate from the virus is slightly higher than the state rate of 3.7%. However, less than 1% of the state’s population has been tested, and only about 20% of those tested are confirmed cases, according to IDPH figures.

Read the full Daily Herald story here.

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As social distancing concerns grow with the rising temperatures this spring, suburban forest preserve officials say they continue to monitor the size of crowds at their facilities but intend to keep most open to the public.

That could change quickly depending on public behavior.

Despite social media initiatives, ample signage and rangers walking the grounds, there have been cases where crowds needed to be dispersed at preserves. In some instances — such as with Rocky Glen Waterfall near Lemont and the Swallow Cliff Stairs near Palos Hills — sites were closed because of overcrowding.

“We may close more sites,” said Carl Vogel, director of communications for the Cook County Forest Preserve. “That’s absolutely a possibility. But we want people to follow the guidelines and help us keep the forest preserves open.”

Read more here.

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