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Article updated: 12/26/2012 11:44 PM

Last day of candidate filing brings showdown in Island Lake

By Russell Lissau

The last day of candidate filing for the April 2013 election solidified some much anticipated political showdowns in Lake County.

Perhaps most prominently, a slate of relative political newcomers led by a former veteran mayor will challenge sitting Island Lake Mayor Debbie Herrmann and her allies for control of that town.

In Gurnee, where two rivals will face off for mayor, and in Mundelein, Island Lake and other towns, municipal races will be crowded, too.

Former Island Lake Mayor Charles Amrich, who led the town from 1985 to 2005, will make another go at his old job. He's joined on the "For the People" slate by trustee candidates Mark Beeson, Keith Johns and Anthony Sciaronne and clerk candidate Teresa Ponio.

A few of those names may be familiar to Island Lake voters.

Ponio is the wife of former trustee and onetime mayoral candidate John Ponio. Sciarrone is a former Island Lake police chief who was demoted by Herrmann in a very public -- and ugly -- proceeding in 2010.

Beeson is a local activist.

Amrich's slate submitted petitions Wednesday morning. His group will run against Herrmann and her "United For Progress" slate.

In addition to Herrmann, the Progress slate consists of trustee candidates Josh Rohde, Ken Nitz and Ed McGinty and incumbent clerk Connie Mascillino.

They filed for the ballot on the first day last week.

Herrmann has been mayor since 2009 and formerly served as a trustee. Mascillino, another former trustee, was appointed village clerk this year.

McGinty sits on the town's police pension board.

Three incumbent trustees -- Steve Stiller, Sam Cicero and Laurie Rabattini -- are not running.

The "For the People" candidates hit a bump last week when their initial choice for clerk, former Trustee Sally Fleissner, dropped out and had to be replaced.

The lineup change meant the candidates had to circulate new petitions bearing Ponio's name instead of Fleissner's.

"We had to start from scratch," Beeson said, who declined to comment on the reason for the swap.

Gurnee is expected to have a feisty mayor election between political rivals who have been feuding.

Trustee Kirk Morris is challenging Mayor Kristina Kovarik. Morris has tangled with Kovarik since she removed his private foundation in 2009 from being in charge of pursuing construction of what was supposed to be Heroes of Freedom Memorial Park on village-owned public property. It was supposed to be a memorial for troops who died in Iraq and Afghanistan..

In Mundelein, three candidates are running to replace Mayor Kenneth H. Kessler, who opted not to seek a third term.

Trustee Steve Lentz and park district Commissioner Wally Frasier filed early; they have been joined by Trustee Robin Meier.

Although she's been on the village board for about four years, Meier insisted she's not a politician. She's running for higher office because she wants to lead.

"I think we need forward thinking, independent thinkers and not political alliances, which can sometimes form roadblocks," Meier said.

Mundelein's village board race will be crowded, too. Seven candidates are running for three open seats.

Incumbents Ray Semple and Jim Nutschnig will be joined on the ballot by Dawn Abernathy, Holly Kim, Alexander Kvasnicka, Gregory S. Jacobs and Kerry A. Garesche.

All but Jacobs are political newcomers. He unsuccessfully ran in the 8th Congressional District in 2010, losing the Republican nomination to Joe Walsh.

Lake Zurich voters will find plenty of choices on their ballots in April.

Mayor Suzanne Branding, who is heading the United Lake Zurich Party slate, will have to fend off Trustee Tom Poynton and Mary Black. In addition, seven candidates are seeking three 4-year trustee seats.

Helmut Gerlach, Todd Minden and Idiko Schultz are in the trustee hunt as members of Branding's slate, while Poynton is supporting incumbent Jeff Halen, Geoff Petzel and Dan Stanovich. Jim Beaudoin is in the 4-year trustee race as well, but he's not affiliated with Branding or Poynton.

Vying for a 2-year trustee post are United Lake Zurich's Debra Vander Weit and Mark Loewes, who has joined forces with Poynton for the election.

Recently appointed Lake Zurich Village Clerk Kathleen Johnson is running for the 4-year job on Branding's slate.

In Mettawa, Casey Urlacher, brother of Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, will try to keep Jeffrey Clark from scoring a victory in the mayoral race. Mayor Jess Ray isn't seeking re-election.

Ÿ Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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