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posted: 10/1/2012 9:21 AM

Candidates for McHenry Co.'s District 1 talk about the issues

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Running in the general election for McHenry County District 1 are four Republicans -- Yvonne Barnes, Robert "Bob" Bless, Anna May Miller and Robert Nowak -- and a lone Democrat, Nick Chirikos.

District 1, in the southeast corner of the county, is the only one among the county's six districts that didn't need to hold a Republican primary election in March. It includes most of Algonquin Township and parts of Grafton Township.

Here is a look at the candidates running in the Nov. 6 election, where one of them will get weeded out.

• Yvonne Barnes, 51, of Cary, is a former county board member who in 2010 lost a chance to run for a second term after the primary election. She is also a former Cary trustee and owns a small technical communications business.

She believes that the county must exercise fiscal restraint by providing services at a lower cost to residents, and by doing a thorough review of its contractual agreements to find ways to save money. She also wants to focus on helping and better educating residents about how to speedily and effectively address any concerns that involve the county.

• Board member Robert Bless, 50, of Fox River Grove, works as a police officer and attorney. He was elected in 2008; he serves on the law and justice, liquor and license, and finance and audit committees.

McHenry County has to avoid dipping into its reserves to keep up with operational needs or fund large capital expenses, Bless said. He also believes in better educating the public about complex issues like property taxes with clear and comprehensive information on the county's website. He says the county board should stop ovver-regulating businesses -- as it did earlier this year in response to a proposal to create a winery, he said -- in order to foster economic development.

• Board member Anna May Miller, 59, of Cary, works as administrative assistant with the Algonquin Township Road District. She was elected in 2002; she chairs the transportation committee and serves on the management services and public health and human services committees.

Miller said it's imperative to work on maintaining the county's AAA bond rating, which in turn allows the county to better invest in much-needed transportation projects. Miller believes in promoting effective transportation across the county while preserving the county's environmental resources, particularly its groundwater reserves.

• Board member Robert Nowak, 60, lives just outside of Cary and is self-employed in the remodeling/handyman business. He was elected in 2010 and serves on the building projects, natural and environmental resources, and law and justice committees.

Nowak said he believes it's imperative to keep property taxes down, pointing out that he voted against imposing a cost-of-living increase to the property tax levy last year. Nowak also said he wants the county to be more business friendly, instead of imposing onerous requirements on business owners. Like Bless, he mentioned the recent over-regulation of wineries.

• Nick Chirikos, 64, of Algonquin, works in green building products and chairs the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission.

Chirikos wants to stop "backroom politics" and reassess the structure of the county board to give more weight to minority party positions. He also wants to reopen the discussion regarding term limits for the county board chairman, and wants to ensure the county board maintains or reduces its level of taxation by looking at expenses like administrative salaries, software purchases, and maintenance and lobbying costs.

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