Chautuaqua Building closed

The Chautuaqua Building in Shelbyville’s Forest Park is currently closed, but a referendum concerning its fate will appear on the March ballot.

The non-binding Shelbyville referendum to repair the historic Chautauqua Building in Forest Park passed 59% to 40% on Tuesday. The other option was to demolish it. The Shelbyville City Council will now decide how to implement the will of the people.


Bruce Cannon

In the vote for District 2 of the County Board, Chairman Bruce Cannon will not be the Republican candidate in November. Challenger Mark A. Bennett, Penn Township Supervisor, defeated him handily in the GOP primary by a 246-75 vote.

Mark A. Bennett

Mark A. Bennett

Cannon will serve out his District 2 term, then the Shelby County Board will have to elect a new chairman.

Other highlights from Tuesday’s Shelby County results revealed Joe Biden as a big winner. In a field of 12 Democrat candidates, Biden carried Shelby County with 895 votes. Bernie Sanders was 2nd with just 294 votes. The other 10 candidates scattered the remaining 104 votes cast. None got more than 37 (Michael Bloomberg). Biden won the Democratic primary in Illinois.

President Donald Trump had a challenger on the Republican ballot, Roque De La Fuente. That was no contest in Shelby County. Trump won the county, 3,203 to 46, easily captured Illinois and has now garnered enough ballots across the nation to again be the GOP nominee in November.

The will of the people was also decided in Cowden concerning the selling of liquor. The people voted 79 to 53 “not to prohibit” selling liquor at retail in Cowden.

The proposition read “Should the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor be prohibited?” By 26 votes the people voted not to prohibit retail sales. Cowden is currently dry. This vote will change that.

The Democrats had four candidates for the 15th Congressional District: Erika C. Weaver won Shelby County with 534 votes and also captured her party’s nomination. Kevin Gaither followed with 326, Craig Morton with 211, and John W. Hursey, Jr. with 70

Likewise, the Republicans had 4 candidates for the 15th Congressional District. Mary Miller took Shelby County overwhelmingly, with 2,246 votes. SHe also won the GOP nomination to replace John Shimkus. Kerry A. Wolff led the also-rans with 400 votes in SHelby County, Darren E. Duncan had 353 and Chuck Ellington had 164.

Democrat candidate on the ballot for Shelby County State’s Attorney, Gina Vonderheide, the current State’s Attorney, withdrew her candidacy for the November General Election, prior to the Primary vote. Therefore, her results were recorded at the precincts, but not reported.

The Democrats have until August 20 to field another candidate. Otherwise, Republican candidate Nichole Kroncke will run unopposed in November and be the next Shelby County State’s Attorney. Kroncke ran unopposed on the Republican primary ballot.

Five Republicans were battling for the right to take on incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin for Illinois Senator in November. In Shelby County, Peggy Hubbard won with 948 votes. Mark A Curran was 2nd with 767 votes, Tom Tarter had 641, Robert Marshall 427, and Casey Chlebek 109. Curran won the nomination statewide.

In the race for County Coroner, Republican Brad Phegley was unopposed and received 2,850 votes. Democrat Tom Coventry ran unopposed and garnered 1,154 votes, 1696 fewer votes than Phegley.

In the race for Republican candidate for 5th District Supreme Court Judge, David K. Overstreet won the county with 2064 votes, beating John B. Barberis, Jr. (747).

In the Republican race for Appellate Judge, 5th District, Katherin Ruocco and Mark M. Boie were in a close decision. Ruocco won the county 1429 to 1328, by 101 votes (3.6% of the vote).

Shelby County residents voted “yes” to repairing the Chautauqua Building by a 59.37 percent to 40.36 percent margin. There were 529 “yes” votes and 362 “no” votes. For 15 years, various Shelbyville city councils and mayors have wrestled with renovating the historic 115 year-old Chautauqua Building or possibly demolishing it. Over the years, there have been public polls, but no final decision. The Chautauqua is currently off limits to the public. In the last year, the current city council has tried to bring renovation solutions or demolition closer to a decision. At times, discussions have been animated, but the council was clearly in favor of the public weighing in, before spending possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.On December 16, Mayor Jeff Johnson, Commissioner Debe Wright, Commissioner Martha Firnhaber, Commissioner Thom Schafer, and Commissioner Mark Shanks voted unanimously for a non-binding referendum question to be placed on the March 2020 ballot.“Shall the City of Shelbyville repair and preserve the Chautauqua Building so that it is safe for use and occupancy, at a projected repair cost of $750,000.00-$800,000.00, with no projected tax increase unless approved by separate voter referendum instead of demolishing and removing the Chautauqua Building at a projected cost of $60,000-$100,000?”

John Curtis can be reached at

John Curtis can be reached at

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