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updated: 11/1/2010 6:16 PM

Judges, clerk, county board on ballot in Kane

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Two candidates for circuit judge are among those squaring off today as Kane County voters head to the polls.

Republican David Akemann and Democrat John Dalton are each seeking a six-year term in the 16th Judicial Circuit.

Akemann, of Elgin, is a former Kane County state's attorney who has pledged to be an "honest, hardworking, common sense" judge if elected. Dalton, also of Elgin, is a veteran trial attorney who says he would be a "fair and independent voice for the people."

Both candidates say they would work to make the judicial system more efficient and accessible.

Other notables:

County races

• Treasurer David Rickert faces challenger David Lowery. Rickert, a Republican, has touted his office's use of technology, including a database on its website where taxpayers can find public records. Lowery, a Democrat, did not respond to campaign questionnaires or attend an endorsement interview.

• Clerk John Cunningham, a Republican, is challenged by Democrat Mavis Bates and Green Party candidate Jose del Bosque. Cunningham has campaigned on how his office became more user-friendly, with automated and accessible public records. Bates and del Bosque did not respond to questionnaires nor participate in endorsement interviews.

County board

• Juan Reyna defeated sitting District 3 board member Jennifer Laesch in the Democratic primary and now takes on Republican Dennis Burgin. Both are from Aurora and newcomers to the political arena, though Burgin is an Aurora Township precinct committeeman. Reyna has never run for office. Burgin's No. 1 campaign issue is money, namely taxes and the county budget. Reyna said he doesn't have a clear-cut top campaign issue, though he was not in favor of the health department laying off 62 employees.

Independent newcomer Monica Silva made her mark on the county board in trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to dissuade officials from downsizing the health department. It's an issue that continues to create a dividing line between her and District 7 incumbent Gerald Jones, who is one of the longest-serving members on the board and the senior Democrat. He reluctantly led the county board's decision to transfer the bulk of social services out of the health department he helped to create and into the hands of local private health care providers. Jones said the decision was necessary to maintain the existence of the health department when the state couldn't pay its bills on time. Silva and Jones live in Aurora.

District 9 incumbent Republican Jim Mitchell and Democratic challenger Chris Faber, both of North Aurora, don't agree on much. Faber, a village trustee, believes Mitchell and the county board made a mistake in building a new jail that didn't have enough beds for the number of inmates the county had on the day it opened. Mitchell, who played a lead roll in building the jail, says the county can't afford the personnel costs of opening the shell space. Faber favors video gambling for the county as a means of jobs growth, while Mitchell opposes video gambling.

Democrat Stephen Bruesewitz said he decided, in part, to run in the District 13 race against incumbent Republican Phil Lewis because of the downsizing of the health department. Bruesewitz believes the board did a poor job of saving money for a rainy day. Lewis said the county board had their hands forced by a backlog of state payments draining the county and health department's savings. Both live in St. Charles.

• The new jail and downsizing of the health department have divided District 15 incumbent Republican Barb Wojnicki and Democrat Kay Catlin. Both agree the jail is too small, but they don't agree on why. Wojnicki said the jail is too small today because times have changed. Catlin said the plan the board approved was a bad design. Wojnicki and Catlin both favor cutting budgets in other departments and using reserve money to fund a jail expansion. Wojnicki voted against downsizing the health department. Catlin said she would have voted to downsize. Both live in St. Charles.

St. Charles library

Use of the library grew dramatically in the past 20 years, and extra room is at a premium, officials say. The library board's solution is an expansion project to double the size of the existing library and add a new parking lot. There are two ballot questions: One is for construction money, the other for operating funds. The combined tax increase implications of saying "yes" to both questions is about $81 on the property tax bill for a home that would sell for $300,000.

State legislative races

• Chris Lauzen, an accountant and Aurora Republican who has been in office since 1992, faces Leslie Juby, a Democrat and Geneva school board member, in state Senate District 25. Lauzen emphasized a four-point plan to bring the budget deficit under control instead of resorting to a tax increase. He also wants to impose new pension rules on existing employees and cites past efforts from the 1990s where he tried to address this problem. Juby also opposes a tax increase, and says she's running because it's a natural extension of her community service and passion for education. She promises a fresh perspective to Springfield and not reject ideas that come from the other side of the isle.

• Republican Tim Schmitz, a Batavia fireman who has served in the House for 11 years, faces Democrat Jennifer Barconi, an Air Force veteran and South Elgin business owner, in District 49. During the campaign, Schmitz said the state needs to go on a "strict diet." He supports a "forensic audit" of the state budget and wants to make Illinois a more attractive place for potential employers. Barconi says she would use her marketing skills to "sell" Illinois' strengths to job creators. She also would place a high priority on addressing the needs of veterans and the disabled.

• incumbent Kay Hatcher, a Republican from Yorkville, faces Democrat Linda Healy of Aurora in House District 50. Healy is the former director of the Mutual Ground domestic violence shelter in Aurora. She retired in 2009. Hatcher is in her first term as state representative. She has served on the Kendall County Board and was president of the Kendall County Forest Preserve Commission. Both are unhappy with the state's finances. Healy opposes increasing the state income tax, but favors an increase over borrowing more money to pay bills and pension obligations. Hatcher wants an audit of state spending before a tax increase is considered.

• Daily Herald staff writers James Fuller, Susan Sarkauskas, Harry Hitzeman and Jameel Naqvi contributed to this story.

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