Will County elects first female speaker

Six new Board Members sworn into office

12/4/2018, 12:05 p.m.
thetimesweekly.com Joliet - Long-time Will County Board member Denise Winfrey (D-Joliet) made history when she was sworn in as the ...
Newly elected and re elected Board Members take the oath of office.


Joliet - Long-time Will County Board member Denise Winfrey (D-Joliet) made history when she was sworn in as the first-ever female and African American Speaker of the Will County Board. As leader of the majority party on the board, Winfrey was elected to the top post Monday where she will serve as the chief constitutional officer of the 26-member body.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to assume the Speakership of this great institution and I pledge to work in the best interests of the 700,000 people who call Will County home,” Winfrey said. “ Ours is a thriving, vibrant and growing county that holds much untapped potential for strong economic growth and I aim to direct that growth toward a higher standard of living and a better quality of life for our citizens.”

Will County is the fourth largest county in Illinois with nearly 700,000 residents. It boasts a diverse economy ranging from urban and suburban centers to some of the best farmland in the country. As a transportation crossroads and the largest inland port in North America, the county is a hub for highway, rail and water traffic receiving and shipping billions of dollars of goods from all over the world every year. Winfrey sees the Will County Board taking more of a role in planning at a state level particularly in transportation.

Winfrey was first elected to the county board in 2009. She is a long-time resident of the city of Joliet and she attended Joliet public schools. Winfrey also holds leadership positions with the National Association of Counties (NACo). She is currently the vice-chair of the Large Urban Counties Caucus, vice-chair of the Community Economic Workforce Development Steering Committee, and a member of the Membership Committee. She is also a membership ambassador. Assisting Winfrey as majority leader will be Mark Ferry (D- Plainfield).

Mike Fricilone (R-Homer Glen) was selected by the Republicans to lead the minority caucus.

As Chair of the Capital Improvements Committee Winfrey was proud to work with the city of Joliet and Will County on the new courthouse which is being built in her district. The new health department will be built in the next few years and Winfrey looks forward to ushering in a new facility and the value that it will bring to residents.

Winfrey attended Joliet public schools and did her undergraduate work at Lewis University. She received a master of science at American University in Washington, D. C., and conducted her post grad work at Gestalt Institute of Cleveland at Case Western Reserve.

Six other newly elected board members were also sworn into office Monday including : Julie Berkowicz of Naperville, Mimi Cowan of Naperville, Amanda Koch of Frankfort, Meta Mueller of Aurora, Joe Van Duyne of Wilmington, and Rachel Ventura of Joliet.