Eight candidates -- four Republicans, three Democrats and an Independent -- are vying for a chance to represent District 6 on the McHenry County Board. This is by far the most crowded among the six McHenry County Board races on the Nov. 6 election ballot.
District 6 includes the largely rural western half of the county, including all of Riley, Marengo, Dunham, Chemung, Alden, Hartland, Seneca, Coral and Hebron townships, plus parts of Grafton and Greenwood townships.
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Here's a look at what the candidates say are their top priorities.
• Republican challenger Michele Aavang, 51, of Woodstock, works as a farmer and is vice president of the McHenry County Farm Bureau.
Aavang wants to promote fiscal responsibility in county government by managing expenses conservatively, as well as constantly analyzing expenses. Repetitive or duplicate agencies should be consolidated or eliminated in order to achieve savings, she says. She also wants to encourage economic growth in the county while protecting its agriculture and natural resources, especially water, and promote open and transparent government at the county level.
• Republican incumbent Diane Evertsen, 67, of Harvard, is a retired real estate agent who has served since 2010.
The board must regain credibility among residents, and board members must stop making false promises, such as cutting taxes, which no single board member can do, Evertsen says. She believes in being a good steward of taxpayer money, whether the money comes from local, state or federal agencies. She also believe that preserving the rural, agricultural character of the district is crucial to ensure the county has enough groundwater to meet its future needs.
• Democratic challenger Ryan Heuser, 39, of Marengo, works as an operating engineer.
Heuser believes in maintaining a balanced budget through cost-saving initiatives such as reducing by 50 percent the size of the county board along with board members' salaries. He also proposes cutting the board chairman's salary. He does not believe in cutting county jobs, but wants to give property tax relief to homeowners whose properties have been devalued by the housing crisis. He also wants to develop a comprehensive plan to improve county roads and bridges while conserving its environmental and natural resources.
• Democratic challenger Jayant Kadakia, of Huntley, is a retired environmental engineer and former Huntley trustee.
Kadakia says he wants to address water conservation and water pollution as the county addresses the need for expanded use of public utilities and water resources. He also wants to expand road construction and maintenance programs, ensure seniors are provided adequate transportation options, and encourage the use of bike paths to cut down on pollution. He also proposes consolidating county departments.
• Republican incumbent Mary McCann, 67, of Woodstock, owns a berry farm and has served on the board since 2007.
McCann believes in a continued conservative approach to the county's fiscal management, which includes ensuring that funding sources are identified before embarking on major capital projects such as software purchases. She wants to work on updating the county's stormwater regulations to increase effectiveness and reduce the cost of compliance. She also wants to focus on ensuring the protection of the county's groundwater supplies.
• Republican incumbent Ersel Schuster, 72, of Woodstock, owns a printing and graphics business. She has served three nonconsecutive terms on the board.
Schuster says her greatest concern is to address the county's groundwater reserves. She also wants to reduce the size of county government. Board members need be educated about how to proactively address financial issues to prevent runaway costs. Also, she believes that the county board needs to eliminate some services, especially in light of the fact that labor accounts for more than three-fourths of the budget.
• Independent challenger Larry Smith, 57, of Harvard, is a real estate broker and director of an insurance company.
Smith believes that each department should justify each expense in order to eliminate waste or duplication of services. He wants to reduce the size of county government, and advocates asking voters through referendum if they want to elect a chairman at large. He also wants to promote better communication between the board and its constituents, and with other elected officials at all levels of government.
• Democratic challenger Scott Summers, 63, of Harvard, is an attorney and author of "how to" books. Summer proposes addressing unemployment in the county through microcapitalism, which he intends as a multiagency project to develop home and community-based businesses utilizing microloans and microgrants. He also proposes joining with other units of government to acquire the vacant Motorola plant in Harvard and convert it to public purposes if no buyers step in. He wants to hire a consultant to evaluate county government and possibly consolidate agencies and positions.