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updated: 2/8/2011 11:41 AM

Lake County clerk candidates spar over self promotion

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  • Willard Helander

    Willard Helander


Democrat Laura Tomsky says Republican Lake County Clerk Willard Helander should stop inserting her name for self-promotion purposes on the office's material paid by taxpayers.

Tomsky made her remarks while she and Helander attended a recent Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interview to address issues in the clerk's election that'll be decided Nov. 2. Helander deflected Tomsky's self-promotion accusation.

Helander, 58, of Libertyville, was elected as Lake County clerk in 1994. Tomsky, 44, of unincorporated Gages Lake, is making her first attempt at elected office.

In the interview, Tomsky questioned the accuracy of party affiliation listings for voters in primary elections before she criticized Helander for including her name on the clerk's website home page and on materials.

Tomsky said the county clerk's office isn't just about Helander, but rather all of the employees who work there.

"I apologize, Willard, but when I see things that say, 'Brought to you courtesy of Willard Helander, county clerk,' really, it's brought to me by my taxpayer dollars. It's brought to me by the people that support (the office)," Tomsky said.

Helander responded that her office hasn't had any accuracy problems with party affiliation listings in primary elections, and that she's supported by studies on Illinois' county clerks. She also scoffed at Tomsky's claim about being a self-promoter on taxpayer money.

"I have to laugh," Helander said. "I had requests when I ran the second time that I shouldn't have my name on the ballot as required by law, certifying the ballot. You (Democrats) never had a problem with it when it was (predecessor) Linda Hess."

Helander said clerks before her all had their names and sometimes even photographs on the office's material.

On other issues, Helander said her office has been using audio ballots to help voters who don't speak English. She said the office also is using social media in an effort to get information to Lake County residents.

Tomsky said, if elected, she would work at implementing a nonpartisan program to make an effort to specifically reach minority voters. She said more civic education programs in high schools could target low-turnout areas.