Ex-St. Charles school board member to run for Kane County chairman, targets Lauzen's leadership style

The 2020 election for Kane County Board chairman will be a litmus test for incumbent Republican Chris Lauzen's personality as much as his policies. A second Democrat announced Thursday she will seek the seat, with promises of a new level of respect and decorum in the office that represents the face of Kane County.

Corinne Pierog described Lauzen's leadership as being "based on intimidation" and "filled with anger and name-calling" in announcing her bid to replace him.

Voters may know Pierog for her two terms of service on the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board or her unsuccessful run for state Senate. She is also founder and chair of the Kane County Democratic Women of Illinois.

Pierog referenced Lauzen's ongoing battles with Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon and Lauzen's open criticism of Democratic county board members' efforts to get funds for the county in the recent state budget agreement as examples of failed leadership. She said Lauzen has been "incredibly insulting to our elected trustees to the point that they don't even want to talk to him."

As for specific policies, Pierog said she favors efficiency in government but not to the point that it results in upending relationships and contracts with employees. The comment was a reference to last year's strike by county probation officers and subsequent attempts to reopen negotiations on contracts some unions believed were already locked in.

Pierog said there is a balance between being frugal and being responsible with the money available. Cost-of-living increases in the tax levy represent a reasonable boost to revenue the county should consider, she said.

"No one wants to raise taxes," Pierog said. "So it's what you do with the money and the priorities you put in place for that money to be spent."

Pierog was also critical of the way the county has addressed residents opposed to the construction of the Longmeadow Parkway project. She said the key for Longmeadow going forward is to effectively manage it while also not ignoring the people who live near the construction.

Aurora Democrat Greg Elsbree announced his candidacy for county board chairman last month. During his announcement, Elsbree focused on the fractured relationships the county has with its employee unions under Lauzen's leadership.

He, too, promised a more diplomatic approach in working with others, even when their viewpoints differ.

In an interview, Lauzen said he has not yet decided if he will seek a third term. If he does run, he said his opponents should attend county meetings so they can have an informed perspective about his leadership.

"For the people who are running so far, I could count the number of meetings they've attended on one hand," Lauzen said. "For them to draw a critical conclusion, they haven't had a sufficient sample size. However, the results of my leadership couldn't be more clear."

He pointed to his consistent push for a frozen property tax levy, the paying off about two-thirds of the county's debts and a pension funding level of 95% as three hallmarks of his tenure so far.

  Corinne Pierog said she wants to move Kane County away from "leadership based on intimidation" as part of her motivation to unseat incumbent Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen. James Fuller/
Photo Courtesy of Greg ElsbreeAurora Democrat Greg Elsbree announced his candidacy for Kane County Board chairman in June. Having at least two Democrats in the race will spark the need for a primary election.
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