Karen McConnaughay, the chairman of the Kane County Board, could take a step up on the political ladder after a convincing victory over Gilberts business owner Cliff Surges for the Republican nomination in the 33rd State Senate District.
McConnaughay, of St. Charles, will take on Doug Marks, a Libertarian from Carpentersville, in the November general election.
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With all 52 of the precincts reporting in McHenry County, McConnaughay unofficially had 67 percent of the vote over Surges. In Kane County where all precincts were in, unofficial vote totals showed McConnaughay with 53 percent of the vote late Tuesday night.
"Throughout the campaign we stayed on message and that message was to return Illinois to the kind of state where we are proud to raise our families," McConnaughay said from Emmett's Restaurant in West Dundee. "And we need to send people to Springfield who are not afraid of making the tough decisions."
McConnaughay said she is committed to taking her demonstrated leadership to Springfield to affect pension reform and other changes.
Surges conceded in a news release just before 10 p.m.
The two candidates took different paths to the Republican nomination in the primary for the State Senate District 33 but both said their background would enable a smooth transition to Springfield.
The district straddles northeastern Kane and southeastern McHenry counties, covering parts of Huntley, Carpentersville, St. Charles, West Dundee and South Elgin and several other towns.
McConnaughay, who will wrap up her second term as board chairman, said many of her accomplishments at the county level, such as demanding cost-cutting, a hiring freeze and requiring all county departments trim 1.5 percent from their budgets without sacrificing services, are the types of measures state legislators need to take to get the state back on solid financial ground.
In contrast, Surges, who served on the Gilberts village board from 1997 to 2001, said his relative political obscurity would help him work with legislators across the aisle. His time on the village board did see him play a role in several development plans that remain in the village, including water and waste facilities.
Though the candidates shared philosophies on issues from pension reform to gay marriage, they traded personal blows throughout the campaign. McConnaughay called Surges' history of late property tax payments a "wanton disregard for the law." Meanwhile, McConnaughay defended a contract between her mother-in law, a commercial real estate owner, and Geneva Township Highway Commissioner Mark Wissing.