URBANA – Two-term incumbent Katie Blakeman has conceded to Democratic challenger Susan McGrath in a tight race for Champaign County Circuit Clerk.
“Today I called my opponent to congratulate her on her win, and to offer my assistance in ensuring a smooth transition in the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s Office,” Blakeman wrote Friday, in a statement on her campaign’s Facebook and Twitter accounts that did not mention McGrath’s name. “It has been the honor of my life to serve as your Circuit Clerk”.
In her own statement, McGrath said the call was a gracious one.
“I received a gracious call from Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman this afternoon in which she congratulated me on my election and told me she did not intend to pursue a recount,” McGrath wrote. “She and I will be meeting next week to work on the transition. I wish Katie well and thank her for her dedicated service to our community.”
McGrath will be sworn in as the new circuit clerk in Champaign County on December 1.
The initial vote tally on election night gave McGrath the victory over Blakeman by just 52 votes. As last-minute mail-in ballots came in, that victory widened to 120 votes. In the most recent vote tally issued last Friday, McGrath was ahead by a margin of 385 votes, 45,743 to 45,358. That still gives McGrath an advantage of less than half a percentage point.
A final tally will be issued Tuesday, Nov. 17, when local election authorities in Illinois certify their election results.
McGrath is a senior assistant state’s attorney in the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s office. Formerly, she served on the Champaign County Board and the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District Board, including a stint as chair of the latter body. She ran for circuit clerk on promises to make the office more efficient and to speed up the conversion to electronic filing.
Blakeman was first elected circuit clerk in 2012, after working as a sales manager for NewellRubbermaid and a fundraiser for the University of Illinois Division of Student Affairs.
Jim Meadows is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow him on Twitter: @WILLJimMeadows