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updated: 3/11/2012 8:38 AM

15th District Lake board candidates spar on experience

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  • Carol Calabresa

    Carol Calabresa

  • Dan Donahue

    Dan Donahue


One of the Republican candidates for the Lake County Board's 15th District seat has held the post for 26 years.

The other is a challenger who thinks it's time for new blood.

Longtime incumbent Carol Calabresa touts her status as one of the board's longest-serving members.

"I feel like I have a historical perspective to offer," Calabresa said.

However, Dan Donahue, Calabresa's opponent in the March 20 Republican primary, believes her years on the board are a hindrance to good governing.

"People are ready for a change," Donahue said. "They've seen that incumbents who stay too long get too comfortable and lose touch."

The 15th District includes Libertyville and part of Mundelein. The county board doubles as the county's forest preserve district board.

The winner of the GOP primary will face three-time Democratic challenger Del Parra in the November general election.

Calabresa, 67, of Libertyville, first was elected to the county board in 1986 and hasn't lost since.

She views her political experience as a strength.

"I understand the county process," she said.

Through her service, Calabresa said, she's established friendships and relationships with representatives of other government agencies, stretching from the local to national levels.

"I understand the relationships between different layers of government," said Calabresa, a former president of the forest board.

And with the economy on everyone's mind, Calabresa said, she's worked to decrease spending, shave personnel costs and promote energy savings in recent years.

"I am a recognized leader in county government and as a forest preserve commissioner, with a proven track record," she said.

Donahue, 58, of Libertyville, has never run for office in Lake County.

He serves on Libertyville's plan commission and its zoning board of appeals. He formerly served on a community college board and a township school board outside Lake County.

Donahue's wife is former Lake County Republican Federation leader Antonietta Simonian, and he previously worked with the state Senate Republican caucus.

Lake County government needs to be improved, Donahue said, and Calabresa isn't the right person to do the job.

"It's against human nature to dismantle what you've built," he said.

A critical look at the county's operations and finances should be done by someone who "doesn't have an emotional, vested interest in the process and can be objective," Donahue said.

A former electrician who now works as a project manager with an engineering firm, Donahue said his business experience and public policy experience qualify him for the county board post.

"And I have the will to do the job," he said.

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