Home News Homer Township Republican chair Steve Balich loses seat by 1 vote

Homer Township Republican chair Steve Balich loses seat by 1 vote


Homer Township Supervisor Steve Balich, the leader of the Homer Township Republican Organization, plans to seek a recount after losing his precinct committeeperson race by one vote in elections that may change the direction of the party.

“In a loss, God puts you in a new realm, and your new task is something different,” Balich said.

A group of individuals, known as Neighbors United for Homer Township and endorsed by Homer Glen Mayor Christina Neitzke-Troike, won 11 of the 19 races for precinct committeeperson, including some of the nine uncontested races, defeating Balich as well as Homer Glen Trustee Dan Fialko and Homer Township Assessor Carmen Maurella.

Neighbors United candidates said they want “to return civility and harmony to Homer Township.”

Their wins as committeeperson, a volunteer position that promotes party candidates and aims to increase voter turnout in their precincts, will bring new leadership within the township’s Republican organization.

Neitzke-Troike said the candidates she supported want to “make sure there is room for every Republican.”

The campaigns traded barbs on social media. Members of the Balich-backed Homer Township Republican Organization claimed they were the true grassroots Republicans and that members of the Neighbors United group were “fake candidates pretending to be Republicans.”

The posts prompted the Neighbors United group to respond they are real Republicans who were tired of deceitful conduct of those who had been representing the area.

The March 19 primary results, updated Tuesday with provisional and mail-in ballots counted, show Homer Glen resident Tami O’Brien winning her race against Balich by one vote. Results become official on April 9.

“We are all one team,” said O’Brien, who has lived in Homer Glen for 33 years. “I don’t want the divide.”

O’Brien, a member of the Homer Glen Community Development Committee, said the goal of the Neighbors United slate is to create a cohesive, welcoming, unified Republican group that works together. She said she hopes some of the negativity will end on social media, and that she can become a liaison between her neighborhood and the village.

Balich, who also is the Republican leader on the Will County Board, said he anticipates he will not win a recount, but he plans to try. He also said he assumes the Homer Township Republican Organization, when reorganized with new leadership, may not want him involved.

“If they want me involved, I’ll still be involved,” Balich said. “I’m still a Republican. I’m still on the County Board. I’m still supervisor.”

The contested Homer Township precinct committeeperson races were rare throughout Will County. In some areas, no one filed to run for these positions.

Balich said he does not believe the election was a referendum on his leadership, but rather that O’Brien had more friends in the neighborhood. He said the members of the Neighbors United group benefited from Neitzke-Troike’s endorsement, and some Democrats pulled Republican ballots to support Neighbors United over the Homer Township Republican Organization.

Sheri Boniecki-Cooling, chair of the Homer Township Democratic Organization, said local Democrats have tried to open up the community’s eyes to Balich’s leadership. Residents were upset over the township board attempting to sell open space property, developing the Trantina Farm with a civic center and an overall lack of transparency in township government, she said.

“It’s impossible to blame Democrats when you are running against Republicans,” Boniecki-Cooling said. “He 100% lost to Republicans who hold Republican values.”

She said people are likely looking for change in local leadership.

“People are tired,” she said. “They want a change. I think it’s headed in the right direction. People don’t want to fight with one another. They don’t want division.”

The village of Homer Glen’s referendum asking to dissolve or discontinue Homer Township government won by 273 votes out of 4,649 ballots cast, according to the updated election results. Nearly 53% of voters were in favor of the proposal.

The question was advisory only to give elected officials a direction to pursue, Neitzke-Troike said.

The village began taking over the Homer Township Highway Department in 2021 and transferring jurisdiction of roads and equipment from the township to the village.

Neitzke-Troike said she wants to look into more ways to consolidate services, eliminate duplicative services and reduce taxes. The process is not going to happen overnight, she said.

Balich said he believes the township offers services to residents at far less of a cost than the village. He said the township relies on its board and community members to work as volunteers whereas the village has full- and part-time staff. He said there would be a “drastic increase” in costs if the village took over the township.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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