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Article updated: 2/12/2013 11:40 AM

Wauconda candidates copied answers on DH questionnaire

By Russell Lissau

Wauconda Mayor Mark Knigge and his slate of trustee hopefuls gave identical or nearly identical answers to five of eight questions on the Daily Herald's latest candidate questionnaires.

The responses to these questions by Knigge and the three trustee candidates who are part of the "United Wauconda" team -- John Barbini, Lincoln Knight and Wade Meyer -- did not vary in any significant way. Most were copied word for word.

Members of the opposition slate in the April 9 election shared answers with each other, too.

Mayoral hopeful Frank Bart, who leads the "One Wauconda" slate, and trustee candidates Teri Burke and Chuck McEwen, gave identical answers to three questions.

The third trustee candidate on Bart's team, Manuelita Vargas, didn't answer some questions and gave fragmented answers to others.

Knigge, the town's mayor since 2009, said he and his slate mates developed the answers to the questions collectively and compiled their individual thoughts into cohesive responses.

"That's our strength, working together as a cohesive unit," Knigge said. "There really is no 'I' in our team."

Bart, a first-time candidate, gave a similar answer when asked about the similarities in his slate's responses. The candidates went through multiple drafts before settling on joint answers to some questions, he said.

"My direction to them was, this is our platform," Bart said.

Although candidates teaming up to run as a slate is common in local politics, slate mates typically provide independent answers that reflect their individual views when filling out questionnaires for the local media.

The Daily Herald's questions are designed to determine where candidates stand on a variety of general political issues and matters specific to the community they seek to represent.

The four questions that Knigge's "United Wauconda" team answered together concerned differences between the candidates, public safety concerns, budget cuts and the management of Bang's Lake. The candidates also gave indiscernible answers when asked to relate their No. 3 campaign issue.

Some of the trustee candidates gave identical answers when asked to describe their top two campaign issues, too.

"We do have different ideas here and there, but we try to get them all together and work as a group," Knigge said.

The slate's answers to some other questions varied.

As for the "One Wauconda" team, Bart, Burke and McEwen gave identical -- and lengthy -- answers when asked to describe their top three campaign issues.

Their answers to the other questions, which concerned specific topics, varied from person to person.

That was deliberate, Bart said.

"There's got to be individual accountability and individual license there," he said. "(I said) I'm going to answer them my way and I want you to answer them your way."

None of the "One Wauconda" candidates are incumbents.

The questionnaires will be published at dailyherald.com.

Candidates have been caught copying answers on questionnaires before.

In 2011, candidates for the Lake Zurich village board and the Stevenson High School board were criticized for copying responses to the newspaper's questionnaires.

The "United Wauconda" team also includes incumbent Clerk Virginia Irwin.

The "One Wauconda" team includes clerk hopeful Gina Strelecki.

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