WILL County - Wednesday night throughout Illinois, Republicans met at bi-annual conventions to pick county chairmen and members of their State Central Committee. And while the details vary as widely as the counties themselves, Will County GOP - one of the state's most fastest-growing organizations - provides insight into how the party picks leaders and policies.
Will County GOP Chairman Ed Ronskowski explained the evening's agenda and for those that aren't directly involved, how the complicated process was implemented according to state law.
State law requires that the first order of business at each County Convention be the election of Chairman, and officers. Ronkowski was re-elected as Will County Chairman with a unanimous vote of the 100 plus Will County precinct committeemen in attendance.
The law requires that the next order of business be the election of State Central Committeemen.
At the Will County GOP Convention, four of the elections for State Central Committeemen were unanimous, with all of the Will County votes going to Roger Claar, Mayor of Bolingbrook (11th District), David Smith, New Lenox Village Trustee (1st Dist.), Steve Balich, Will County Board member (2nd Dist), and John McGlasson of Pontiac (16th Dist.).
The next two races had speeches and serious debate. In the 2nd District, Eric Wallace of Flossmoor got a combined weighted vote of 2284 to Judy Diekelman’s 1279. In the 14th District, Stan Bonds from Montgomery, Illinois, who had personally campaigned in Will County, got a combined weighted vote of 5,608 to State Representative Barb Wheeler from Crystal Lake vote of 1,406.
Will County's picks emerged as winners in the 11th, 14th and 16th CDs.
"Will County has portions of six Congressional Districts, so we had six different slates up for election," Ronkoiwski explained. "Some precincts are split, so we had different elected precinct committeemen voting different votes for more than one election."
"We had discussion on each race, speeches by some candidates and their supporters, and serious debate, followed by six different sets of votes. Then we discussed by-laws and voted on them by paper ballot," he said.
The Will County GOP worked through all those details in 65 minutes, and with a broken microphone.
"Immediately at the conclusion, I phoned in our Will County results to the Illinois Republican Party," Ronkowski said. "I even got a call from the Wheeler campaign at home that night at 11:30 p.m. requesting the results in their cliffhanger." State Rep. Barbara Wheeler lost her 14th CD bid for State Central Committee to Stan Bond.
The next morning, Ronkowski and every other Republican county chairman sent emails to the Illinois Republican Party confirming the results of their county organization's voting. Then the county chairmen sent the results of the precinct committeemen and officers of their county's results via email in a prescribed form to the Illinois State Board of Elections.