Maine to seek Lake County forest board presidency

Bonnie Thomson Carter's decision not to seek a fifth term as president of the Lake County Forest Preserve Board has left a vacancy one Ann B. Maine wants to fill.

Maine, a Lincolnshire Republican who represents the board's 21st District, believes her passion for nature and conservancy will serve the district well.

“The outdoors and open space and forest preserves have always been a part of my life and part of my family's lives,” Maine, 51, said. “I don't think there's been a week in the 20 years we've lived here that someone from my family hasn't been in a forest preserve.”

The forest board's 23 members are set to select a new president at a special meeting Monday morning. The panel doubles as the county board, which will pick a new chairman the same day.

The groups also will pick a vice president and vice chairman Monday.

It's not yet known if Maine will have opposition. To win, she'll need at least 12 votes representing a majority of the board.

She's optimistic about her chances.

“I've had a lot of positive conversations with people that make me feel good going forward and putting my name out there,” she said.

Maine, a senior lecturer in biology at Lake Forest College, is no stranger to forest district leadership. She has piloted the board's high-profile land preservation and acquisition committee, which oversees the purchase of new preserves or additions to existing preserves, since joining the board in 2002.

Maine also serves on the forest board's finance committee and the facilities committee, is a member of the district's preservation foundation and is a liaison to the Friends of Ryerson Woods board.

She won re-election to the two boards last month. She was unopposed, a rarity for a county seat.

Before joining the forest board, Maine was a Lincolnshire village trustee.

Forest district Commissioner Aaron Lawlor praised Maine's abilities.

“I think she brings a strong mix of environmental advocacy and a record of fiscal responsibility,” said Lawlor, a Vernon Hills Republican.

Carter has been the forest board's president since 2002. She announced last month she wouldn't seek another term leading the board, although she will remain on the panel.

Carter called Maine a natural fit for the presidency.

“She is the right person to come into this leadership position, and I will do everything I can ... to support her in any way possible,” said Carter, an Ingleside Republican.

Maine believes the forest commissioners' top priority should be dealing with the financial challenges expected to arise as local property-tax revenues decrease.

Officials need to determine how those slipping revenues will affect public programs, restoration efforts and the district's ability to build and maintain trails and other amenities, she said.

“We won't be buying as much land, but we still have to take care of the land we have,” Maine said.

Over on the county board, veteran Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt, a Lake Villa Republican, is stepping down from that post as she prepares to join the state Senate. Buffalo Grove Republican David Stolman is expected to be named as her replacement.

The county board will hold its special meeting at 9 a.m. Monday at the county government center in Waukegan. The forest board's session will follow.

Both meetings are open to the public.