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posted: 3/8/2014 8:00 AM

Two incumbents, one challenger in McHenry Dist. 6 race

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  • Michele Aavang, from left, Ersel Schuster and Larry W. Smith are candidates in the race for McHenry County Board District 6.

    Michele Aavang, from left, Ersel Schuster and Larry W. Smith are candidates in the race for McHenry County Board District 6.


Voters in McHenry County District 6 have a choice between two Republican incumbents and one challenger for the two nominations to the county board.

Michele Aavang of Greenwood and Ersel Schuster of Woodstock are the incumbents, while Larry W. Smith of Harvard is the newcomer.

Schuster, 74, a board member since 1986, hopes to increase transparency by changing the board rules so the county chairman no longer has the authority to appoint committee members and chairs.

That power would instead go to the committee on committees, a body that would be comprised of one board member from every district.

The county chairman now appoints the members of the committee on committees. In addition, board members select the county chair and committee assignments are a "carrot" county chairs have used to remain in office for years, Schuster said.

The board tried to change the rules by giving the committee on committees more power in 2013, but it was voted down, Schuster said. She said she would like to bring it back for consideration, because it's "the cleanest" way to do business.

"It breaks these Chicago and Springfield type appointments where the same people get appointed to things over and over again," Schuster said. "We can fix it here so we don't mimic those other government entities."

Aavang, 53, a farmer, is finishing her first two-year term on the county board, and says if elected she has her sights set on encouraging economic growth while protecting the county's natural resources.

Aavang, chairwoman of the board's natural environmental resources committee that looks at ways to protect natural resources, is most concerned about water. A recent study from the Illinois State Water Survey showed the southeast corner and the center of the county near Woodstock could face serious water shortages by 2050. She's interested in working with the affected areas to come up with solutions.

"It's a regional problem, really," Aavang said. "We need to have the municipalities on board with this."

Smith, 58, sold his real estate franchise office in Harvard three years ago and now works as a real estate broker.

"I'm not out there doing the sales like I used to," Smith said. "My commitment would definitely be to the county board."

Smith vows to be fiscally responsible, to attend all board and related meetings, to be available for committee work and to be responsive to the public's concerns.

He says he hasn't missed a county board meeting in two months and points to his perfect attendance on an insurance board for three years as evidence he'll have a similar record in the county.

"I'll be responsible to (the public) and would definitely be prepared for the meetings and be able to justify my votes," Smith said.

District 6 includes parts of Grafton Township, Marengo, Harvard, Woodstock, Wonder Lake and Hebron.

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