Coroner Artis Yancey of Waukegan lost his bid to stay in office Tuesday night to political newcomer Thomas Rudd of Lake Forest in the race for the Democratic nomination for Lake County coroner.
According to unofficial totals, Rudd received 12,877 votes, or 53.78 percent, while Yancey received 11,066 votes, or 46.22 percent, in the Democratic primary.
On the Republican side, Steve Newton of Antioch claimed victory over Howard Cooper of Bannockburn. Newton received 26,070 votes, or 56.14 percent, while Cooper garnered 20,370 votes, or 43.86 percent.
The totals do not include provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.
"I'm very proud of all the hard work and all the people that contributed to this campaign," said Yancey, who gathered with supporters at Big Ed's in downtown Waukegan. "We ran a very clean campaign. We're happy that we took the high road."
Yancey, who served in law enforcement in Waukegan for more than 20 years, was appointed coroner in April 2011. He admitted that he is disappointed with the loss.
"I still have a commitment to run that Coroner's Office," he noted. "We took that Coroner's Office from a place where it shouldn't have been. We're happy with everything we've done."
Rudd attributes his win to getting out and meeting people and reaching out to "hard-core Democrats" through mailings and the "What's Happening" magazine.
"I'm thrilled. We worked very hard," said Rudd. "We did it the old-fashioned way. We did it by shoe leather."
Rudd said he and his core team of four people used the computer to identify and target those "hard-core Democrats" who had voted in the past few elections. He and his team also went to train stations to meet with people.
"If they showed up early, they had nothing to lose by listening to me," said Rudd. He handed out two-page fliers that described who he is and what he hopes to accomplish. "You'd be surprised how nice people are between 5 and 7 a.m. They were all willing to listen.
He hopes to use the strategy in November’s general election.
"I still think the best way for me is to continue talking to people out at the train stations," said Rudd, adding that his campaign "may be different now that I have the entire Democratic Party behind me."
Newton, who served as chief deputy coroner, took a similar approach to his campaign, meeting people at train stations during what he called "Metra sunrises."
Generally, Newton said, "people are interacting with the coroner at the worst time of their life." By meeting them at train stations, it lets them "meet the person that's going to be representing them in that role."
Newton said his focus during the campaign has been to "run on what I'm about - integrity, respect and compassion. And that's something we've never wavered from.
"I never wanted to go negative," said Newton.
Should he be elected coroner, Newton said he wants to "put families back in the center of the Coroner's Office."