The race for all six seats opening on the DuPage County Forest Preserve Board is generating strong interest from more than a dozen candidates.
Hopefuls still have more than five weeks to officially file for the March 20 primary, but many already are campaigning or have requested election packets. With the exception of the president's post, all board seats on the commission will be up for grabs in the November 2012 election. This happens once every 10 years, after the forest preserve redraws district boundaries based on the latest U.S. Census results. Next, the district will hold a lottery to determine which three seats will start with 4-year terms, and which will have 2-year terms.
While the term lengths remain unknown -- and more candidates are likely to join before election filing ends Dec. 5 -- here is a look at who is running so far.
Right now, incumbent Marsha Murphy has no challengers in the Republican primary and no democrats have yet announced plans to run.
Murphy, of Addison, was elected to the board in 2002 and has focused on wetland mitigation and flood-control management,
District 1 includes all or parts of Addison, Bensenville, Elmhurst, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle, Villa Park and Wood Dale
Republican incumbent Joe Cantore of Oakbrook Terrace may face a primary challenge from Jim Spence.
Spence requested an election packet from the DuPage County Election Commission, according to officials, but indicated he was interested in running for District 1 or 2. He did not declare a party affiliation and could not be reached for comment.
Cantore was elected to the board in 2002. He describes himself as passionate about conservation and said he brings financial sensibilities to the commission. Earlier this month, Cantore suggested lowering commissioner's salaries, which are nearly $57,000 per year, because of the uncertain economy.
District 2 includes all or parts of Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Woodridge.
Commissioner Linda Painter may also run unopposed in the spring primary. Painter, a Hinsdale Republican and pediatric nurse, currently has no challengers in her party.
So far, no Democrats who have filed either.
Painter has served on the board since 2008 and is seeking a second term.
District 3 includes all or parts of Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Naperville, Westmont, Willowbrook and Woodridge.
Longtime incumbent Michael Formento will face Timothy Whelan, an attorney who lives in Wheaton, in the Republican primary this spring.
Robert "Bob" Flesvig, a financial consultant from Glen Ellyn, is running as a Democrat.
Formento, a Glen Ellyn resident and owner of an interior design firm, served on the commission from 1998 to 2002 and then was re-elected in 2006. He has focused on open space and building preservation in recent years.
Whelan is campaigning on a pledge to ensure fiscal responsibility. He is a Republican precinct committeeman in Milton Township and a trustee on the DuPage Regional School Board.
Flesvig is a former Glen Ellyn Park District commissioner and volunteers as a restoration steward for the forest preserve district. He said he comes from a "village of volunteers" and thinks it's unfair that commissioners earn nearly $57,000 annually with benefits and "get to go home during the day and get another salary."
District 4 includes all or parts of Addison, Carol Stream, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Winfield and Wheaton.
Two Naperville residents, Charlie Schneider and Mary Lou Wehrli, are challenging incumbent Carl Schultz of Aurora in the District 5 Republican Primary.
Wehrli is a former president and commissioner of Naperville Park District board and serves on the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation. In her park district role, Wehrli collaborated with the forest preserve to bring the West Branch Riverway Trail to fruition. Now she says she would like to serve in a larger role.
Schneider, who previously made an unsuccessful bid for the Naperville City Council, said he'll bring his technology expertise to the forest preserve district.
Schultz, who was first elected in 2002, is a horticulturalist and the only commissioner with a background in natural resources. He said his mission is to draw people and nature together. Dennis Clark, who unsuccessfully challenged President D. "Dewey" Pierotti last year, is the only Democrat in the field so far. He advocates for greater transparency and land protection.
District 5 includes all or parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville and Warrenville.
The most heated race so far lies in District 6, where incumbent Roger Kotecki will not run for re-election.
GOP hopefuls are Roselle Village Trustee Kory Atkinson, Wayne Village Trustee Peter Connolly, former Bartlett fire Trustee Arthur Pierscionek and West Chicago Alderman Al Murphy.
Business owner and activist Shannon Burns of West Chicago is the lone Democrat to announce. She appears poised to run unopposed in the March 2012 Democratic primary.
District 6 includes all or parts of Warrenville, Batavia, West Chicago, Wheaton, Winfield, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Hanover Park, Bartlett, Wayne and St. Charles