An unexpected political newcomer was among the first to file candidacy petitions on Monday for the six seats opening on the DuPage County Forest Preserve board.
Steve Leopoldo of Westmont said he chose to make his first run for office due to concerns about "extreme waste and imprudent behavior" in the forest preserve.
The Democrat will challenge incumbent District 3 Commissioner Linda Painter, a Republican seeking a second term, who also filed her petition Monday. Thus far, both will run unopposed in the March 20 primary.
"I have been monitoring the forest preserve since the 2008 election and was inspired to run to stop the mismanagement of taxpayer resources and restore focus on the district's mission," Leopoldo said. "I filed as a Democrat, but I am less concerned about partisanship and am focused on restoring trust in local government."
Leopoldo cited concerns that emerged last week about two former administrators, now accused of steering forest preserve contracts toward companies they benefitted from personally. The Daily Herald reported that the district has spent $66,000 investigating the matter and hired a public relations firm to handle this crisis and other duties.
In the other five forest preserve districts, most candidates who were expected to file submitted their paperwork Monday. In Districts 1 and 2, respectively, incumbent Republicans Marsha Murphy and Joe Cantore both filed petitions and are currently unopposed. No Democrats have filed in either district.
Republican incumbent Michael Formento of Glen Ellyn faces at least one primary challenge in District 4 from fellow party member Tim Whelan of Wheaton, who said several weeks ago he planned to run. Democrat Robert "Bob" Flesvig filed, but may run unopposed in the March election.
District 5 has drawn two primary challengers for incumbent and Aurora resident Carl Schultz. Schultz, a Republican, will face fellow GOP members Mary Lou Wehrli and Charles Schneider, both of Naperville.
Commissioner Roger Kotecki will not run for the District 6 seat he's held for 20 years, and now at least four Republican candidates are running for the post: Kory Atkinson of Roselle; Peter Connolly of Wayne; Al Murphy of West Chicago; and Arthur Pierscionek of Bartlett. District 6 is the largest in the forest preserve.
Two Democrats are expected to file for candidacy before the closing period on Friday. Shannon Burns of West Chicago said she planned to file in District 6, while Dennis Clark of Winfield is a likely candidate in District 5. As filings currently stand, both would run unopposed in the spring primary.
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.