Departing DuPage Forest Preserve Commissioner Roger Kotecki is hoping to give a pre-election boost to Democrat Shannon Burns by endorsing her to fill his District 6 seat.
The longtime commissioner said Tuesday he plans to make his endorsement of Burns official in a letter he will send to area newspapers. Burns is facing Al Murphy, a West Chicago Republican, during the Nov. 6 general election.
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When Kotecki was asked why he decided to endorse a Democrat, the Warrenville Republican responded: "My loyalty to conservation and sound fiscal management is more important."
Kotecki said he got to know where Burns stands on the issues when they faced each other during the fall 2010 election.
"She has demonstrated a firm commitment to maintaining open space and preserving and protecting and restoring our natural areas," said Kotecki, who has held the seat since 1990.
Kotecki announced last year that he wasn't seeking re-election.
Burns said Kotecki has been supporting her behind the scenes since June. Nevertheless, she said she's pleased Kotecki is publicly acknowledging "that he and I share the same commitment to protecting open space and serving the public."
"I am really honored to have his endorsement," said Burns, who lives in West Chicago. "I'm committed to carrying on the work that he started over the last 22 years. He leaves really big shoes to fill."
Meanwhile, Murphy said he's neither surprised nor especially concerned about Kotecki's decision.
"Roger's doing it out of spite for me, and that's all it is," said Murphy, adding there's "history" between himself and Kotecki dating back to when they faced each other during the 2010 Republican primary.
Kotecki brushed off Murphy's comment that there's "a grudge."
"I had a choice between two people who have been criticizing my work," Kotecki said. "But I think Shannon's motivations for criticizing are based on values that aren't dissimilar from mine."
Kotecki then took a political shot at Murphy.
He claimed Murphy in the past had expressed a desire to use the commissioner position "to promote development" in the district that includes all or parts of Warrenville, Batavia, West Chicago, Wheaton, Winfield, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Hanover Park, Bartlett, Wayne and St. Charles.
"I have to question his commitment to preserving and protecting the land," Kotecki said.
But Murphy insists his top priority is to protect, preserve and restore forest preserve district land. He accused Kotecki of "twisting" his use of the word "development."
"I was talking about development of trails and bike paths," he said. "I wanted to make the preserves more user friendly."
Murphy said he doesn't think Kotecki's involvement in the race will change the outcome.
"It will take some votes away," Murphy said. "But my honesty and reputation stands for itself. I am well-known in the district."
Burns said she believes Kotecki's support "carries some weight."
"The closer we get to the election," Burns said, "the more important it is for everyone to know that I have bipartisan support."