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updated: 12/5/2011 7:00 PM

Man with criminal past running for county board

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A Grayslake man who pleaded guilty to harassing a former mayor is challenging another ex-mayor for a seat on the Lake County Board.

Eric Daniel Lake filed paperwork Monday to run as a Democrat for the county board's newly redrawn 6th District seat. It was the last day for candidates to submit petitions.

In 2006, Lake was sentenced to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to harassing then-mayor Tim Perry. At the time, police said Lake left more than 20 obscene and sometimes threatening voice-mail messages on Perry's village hall phone.

In an interview with the Daily Herald on Monday, Lake said the sentence later was converted to court supervision. The matter was expunged this year, he said.

Lake is set to run in the March 2012 primary against county board Commissioner Pat Carey, who was Grayslake's mayor from 1993 to 2001.

The showdown is one of several primary battles slated for the spring ballot. All 21 seats on the county board are up for election, and many feature primary contests.

Lake County voters also will choose Democratic and Republican nominees for circuit court clerk, coroner, record of deeds, state's attorney, and five seats on the North Shore Sanitary District.

Notably absent on the list of candidates was the name of veteran county board member Angelo Kyle. Kyle, a Waukegan Democrat whose home was put in the same district as fellow Democrat Audrey Nixon when the political map was redrawn this year, did not file for the ballot. Nixon, of North Chicago, is running for re-election in the 14th District.

Kyle could not be reached for comment.

Lake and Carey are running in the county board's new 6th District, which will include Grayslake, Hainesville, and parts of other communities.

Carey has represented the county's 11th District since 2008, but the district boundaries will change for the 2012 election. Her home now is in the 6th District.

The current 6th District commissioner, Grayslake Democrat Melinda Bush, is giving up the post to run for the state Senate's 31st District seat.

Carey said she was surprised by Lake's political challenge. She heard him speak at a county board meeting last month and was aware of the criminal case, but she said she didn't really know him.

When asked, Carey declined to talk about the case.

"I run on my record, no matter who I'm running against," she said.

In the Nov. 8 meeting Carey recalled, Lake talked to the board about a willow tree he claimed was endangered by the proposed extension of Atkinson Road. He has a website dedicated to his objections to the project.

On the same website, Lake describes the criminal case in which he was involved and insists he has "no convictions on my record."

In an interview Monday, Lake acknowledged he pleaded guilty in 2006. The sentence later was converted to court supervision, he said, and the case was expunged following successful completion of the supervisory period.

The Lake County circuit court system has no record of the case.

Lake praised the work of the county board and said he's running to "make it better."

Grayslake Trustee Jeff Werfel is the lone Republican candidate for the 6th District seat. He'll face the Democratic nominee in the November 2012 general election.

The state's attorney's race looks to be the most crowded contest on the March ballot. Three Democrats and three Republicans are vying to replace Michael Waller, who is not seeking re-election.

Karen Boyd Williams, Reginald C. Mathews and Chris Kennedy are the Democratic hopefuls. Mike Nerheim, Louise Hayes and Bryan R. Winter are the GOP candidates.

In the race for coroner, two Democrats -- incumbent Artis Yancey and challenger Thomas A. Rudd -- will appear on the March ballot. Two Republicans are running, too: Steve Newton and Howard Cooper.

In the race for the recorder's office, two Republicans -- Marty Blumenthal and Bob Bednar -- hope to unseat Democratic incumbent Mary Ellen Vanderventer. Vanderventer is running unopposed in the primary.

Republican Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt isn't running again, and two members of her party -- Gerald T. Dietz and Keith Brin -- are running to replace her. A Democratic candidate has not surfaced.

In McHenry County, there are uncontested races for the countywide positions of auditor, circuit court clerk, coroner, recorder and state's attorney.

But there will be some changes on the county board.

Longtime incumbents from four county board districts have decided not to run for re-election in March, opening the field for new faces and fresh ideas.

Among those is Barbara Wheeler, who was elected in 2002 for the board's 3rd District. Although she now is running for a state representative spot in District 64, already decided in 2010 this term would be her last.

"I loved being on the county board but I also saw a lot of great new talent coming forward and wanting to participate," Wheeler said.

Peter Merkel, elected in 2000 to District 4, also will pass up a chance for re-election. He said it was both a family and career decision to step back. Merkel is the director of parks and recreation with the City of McHenry and has amassed enough years to retire. Though he hasn't set a date yet, he doesn't want to chance being elected to another 4-year term.

Half of those elected will serve 2-year terms but it is decided in a draw after the election.

"I'm not going to run for something if I don't know that I can fully commit to finishing out the term," Merkel said.

Multiple candidates in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 showed up in time for the 8 a.m. start of the filing period Nov. 28. There will be a lottery at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 to decide whose name appears first on the ballot.

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Tara Garcia Mathewson contributed to this report

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