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Article updated: 11/5/2012 5:33 PM

Top races in Kane County

Suburbs may shift power at state level

Tao Martinez, left, opposes Rob Russell for Kane County Coroner in the 2012 General Election.

Tao Martinez, left, opposes Rob Russell for Kane County Coroner in the 2012 General Election.

 
Sue Klinkhamer, left, opposes Chris Lauzen for Chairman of the Kane County Board in the 2012 General Election.

Sue Klinkhamer, left, opposes Chris Lauzen for Chairman of the Kane County Board in the 2012 General Election.

 
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Editor's note: This story was corrected to reflect the correct date Maggie Soliz was removed from the ballot, and her correct political affiliation.

Kane County voters will pick winners in several contentious races Tuesday.

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The contests for county board chairman and coroner have featured various levels of vitriol with candidates often standing on complete opposite sides of many issues.

Democrat Sue Klinkhamer and Republican Chris Lauzen are vying for the chairman position. Each has different plans for how they'd like to transform the way county government operates.

Klinkhamer favors levying to the maximum, saying it's necessary to capture enough tax revenue to pay county employees a fair wage and avoid program cuts. She believes the county board should ultimately be reduced to 18 seats, and health insurance and pension benefits should not be given to board members.

Lauzen wants to freeze the overall county tax levy. He pledged to improve nonunion employee salaries by saving money through unidentified expense cuts.

Klinkhamer wants to hire an administrator to run day-to-day operations, believing that person would eliminate many of the political games that have fueled expensive lawsuits in recent years. She would fund the position, in part, by cutting the salary of the chairman by 25 percent. Lauzen believes hiring an administrator would add an unnecessary layer of government between elected officials and their constituents. Checking personal egos is the only real path to ending lawsuits among elected officials, Lauzen said.

Other county races

Coroner: Voters will elect Kane County's first new coroner in 12 years. Chuck West, who held the office since 2000, died in July after complications from a liver transplant.

Republican Rob Russell, a sergeant with the DuPage County Sheriff's Department, takes on Democrat Tao Martinez, who owns a North Aurora firm that decontaminates and eliminates biohazardous waste from death scenes. Both have clashed over their qualifications and whether the coroner's office needs to investigate deaths at nursing homes, a move Martinez supports.

Board races: The Kane County Board race in District 4 pits two candidates who have never held public office, though Democrat Brian Pollock and Republican Beth Goncher are well-versed in local politics. Pollock is a precinct committeeman and Goncher is the longtime district director for state Rep. Tim Schmitz.

In the District 10 race it looked like Republican Susan Starrett, of North Aurora, was going to be unopposed. But Maggie Soliz, of Batavia, who was kicked off the ballot as an independent in July, filed to run as a write-in independent.

Soliz called for starting county budgets from zero, questioning every line, not just building them off the previous year's budgets.

In District 16, Republican Mike Kenyon, 68, a South Elgin dairy farmer, has been in office for eight years without competition -- until now.

Democrat Jennifer Barconi, 39, a sales director from South Elgin, says Kenyon is out of touch with the economy and that she won't authorize raises for county employees. Kenyon, former chairman of the Kane County Republican Party, would approve raises to avoid employee turnover. He accuses Barconi of being big on sound bites but short on substance.

In the 18th District, Republican incumbent Drew Frasz, 56, who has one of the highest attendance rates among his peers, faces Democrat Kerri Branson, 42. Frasz hopes to streamline county government and approve raises for county employees. Branson, a North Aurora resident, left a modeling career to look after her twin sons who have cerebral palsy. If elected, she pledges to help special needs people and seniors.

State legislature

Even if the Democrat-controlled General Assembly does not change hands, the outcome of races across the suburbs will determine the margins by which the controlling party has majorities.

That could be a big factor as lawmakers are expected to consider whether to extend the 2011 income tax hike and settle other key issues in the next two years. Among other issues that could come before lawmakers: pension cuts for state and school employees and whether suburban taxpayers will cover more of pension costs, where to cut to balance Illinois' budget, and whether new casinos and slot machines at racetracks will be approved.

50th House: Republican state Rep. Kay Hatcher, of Yorkville, is seeking a third term. Aside from serving as a Geneva Township precinct committeeman, this is Andrew Bernard's first crack at public office.

Hatcher calls for fiscal conservatism, favoring a proposal to require a three-fifths majority vote on anything that concerns the state's finances.

Bernard campaigned on a "Key 3" platform: income tax relief, job creation and welfare reform. He proposes instituting a graduated personal income tax and lowering the corporate income tax rate, spending money on infrastructure in the district as a way of creating jobs, and drug testing recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families aid.

25th Senate: Republican Jim Oberweis, of Sugar Grove, campaigned on a platform of fiscal conservatism, looking to reform taxes and the state's workmen's compensation practices. He also favors establishing term limits on legislators and party leadership positions. He has vowed he would serve no more than eight years.

Democrat Corinne Pierog said she would insist that the temporary 2011 income tax hike come to an end when it's scheduled to expire in 2015. The St. Charles school board member is concerned about parity in education funding, and support for social service agencies with which the state contracts.

• Daily Herald staff writers Harry Hitzeman and Lenore Adkins, and State Government writer Mike Riopell contributed to this story.

Races: Voters will choose coroner for first time in 12 years

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