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posted: 11/5/2012 5:30 AM

Hot state, county races face DuPage voters

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  • Tom Cullerton, left, opposes Carole Pankau in the 23rd senate district for the 2012 General Election.

      Tom Cullerton, left, opposes Carole Pankau in the 23rd senate district for the 2012 General Election.

  • Democrat Deb Conroy, left, opposes Republican Daniel Kordik in the 46th State House District for the 2012 General Election.

      Democrat Deb Conroy, left, opposes Republican Daniel Kordik in the 46th State House District for the 2012 General Election.

 
 

Voters in DuPage County can make decisions in several local races where hot-button issues have turned up the heat of contentious campaigns.

Candidates in Illinois Senate and House races as well as the DuPage Forest Preserve Commission and DuPage County Board contests have sparred over ethics, campaign mailers, bidding procedures, elected officials' pay and cost-cutting measures.

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Those who cast votes in Winfield and West Chicago also will be facing referendum questions asking them to increase property taxes.

But the campaigning is almost over as voters head to the polls from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to make choices in these and other races. Here are some of the highlights:

State senate

Sen. Carole Pankau is running another hotly contested race in her bid for re-election in the 23rd Senate District. After a tight primary against state Rep. Randy Ramey in the spring, Pankau is facing Villa Park Village President Tom Cullerton in Tuesday's election.

Pankau's campaign accused Cullerton, 43, of misusing his village of Villa Park email account and cellphone for campaign purposes. Cullerton's campaign denied allegations of ethical wrongdoing and accused Pankau, 65, of Itasca, of avoiding opportunities for debates.

State house

In a race with no incumbent, 46th House candidate Democrat Deb Conroy questioned why Republican opponent Daniel Kordik denied in a candidate survey having a restraining order against him, when a judge in 2005 signed an order permanently banning Kordik from contacting his ex-wife.

Kordik, a 53-year-old Villa Park attorney, said he didn't consider the judge's order a restraining order, but something he agreed to in an attempt to move on after his divorce.

Conroy, a 50-year-old artist from Elmhurst, also sent ads claiming Kordik believes schools shouldn't be required to check if employees are sex offenders. The ads cited a 1992 Villa Park District 45 school board decision to oppose unfunded state mandates made when Kordik was board vice president.

Kordik said the ads were a "total fabrication."

County board

All 18 seats on the DuPage County Board are up for grabs because of redistricting required after the 2010 census, and 29 candidates are competing for the slots in six political districts. Republicans make up 18 of the 29 candidates, while the remaining 11 are Democrats.

Also because of redistricting, those who win the seats will not immediately know the length of their terms. The county board will hold a lottery after the election to determine which seats will start with 4-year terms and which will have 2-year terms.

Forest preserve

A district that is searching for an executive director soon will have new elected leadership as well because at least half of the faces on the DuPage County Forest Preserve Commission will be newcomers after the election.

No incumbents are running in Districts 4, 5 and 6, leaving room for new blood. Races in Districts 1, 2 and 3 pit Democratic challengers against Republican incumbents.

As with the county board, forest preserve commissioner term lengths will be determined by lottery after the election, with half the commissioners landing 4-year terms and the other half drawing 2-year terms.

Referendums

Nearly two dozen questions will greet voters across DuPage County, but only two of them ask about property taxes increases.

In Winfield, where voters will be asked four ballot questions, one of them is seeking $850,000 to $900,000 in additional property taxes each year to fix roads and to bolster the town's underfunded police pension fund. If approved, the property tax rate homeowners pay to Winfield would double.

West Chicago is seeking voter permission to borrow $15.5 million to build and equip a 65,000-square-foot indoor recreation center after a more expensive plan failed by 288 votes in March.

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