Moderate vs. conservative: Kane County's GOP faces a defining county board primary

Half of the Kane County Board is up for election this cycle. With the reshuffling of county board districts after the 2020 Census, a return to the days of majority Republican rule is unlikely. But the March primary will serve as a crucible for the local GOP.

Several self-described moderate incumbent Republicans face opposition from peers who have aligned themselves with the arguably more conservative political positions of former President Donald Trump.

Since Trump’s loss in 2020, a faction of local Republicans has commandeered public comment periods at most county board meetings. They’ve unleashed a torrent of concerns ranging from unproven allegations of local election tampering to emotional pleas for the board to take a stand against the busing of migrants into their communities.

With only eight Republicans on the 24-member county board, including several who do not share all of those concerns, the political waves made by the commenters haven’t changed the course of the county’s policies. But this election could bring more Republicans who resonate with those concerns on board.

The candidates seeking to become the Republican nominee in the Kane County Board District 14 race are Jonathan Gripe, left, and Mark Davoust. Shaw Local News Network

The spotlight is on districts 12, 14 and 16.

GOP incumbents Bill Roth (District 12), Mark Davoust (District 14) and Mike Kenyon (District 16) all face opponents from the more conservative ranks of the Kane County GOP.

Their opponents, Michelle Geen (District 12), Jonathan Gripe (District 14) and Eric Stare (District 16), all either echo the concerns of the conservative public commenters from the past four years or say they’ve been recruited to run for office by some of those commenters. In addition to local election reform, including the use of hand-counted paper ballots, the three opponents stand against a new facility for the county health department, relocating or selling the existing county government center, and they want the county to actively oppose migrant busing into the area.

The candidates seeking to become the Republican nominee in the Kane County Board District 16 race are Mike Kenyon, left, and Eric Stare.

Local Democrats have less intrigue in their primary contests.

Incumbent Vern Tepe faces a third contest with Randy Hopp for the District 22 seat. Tepe won by wide margins in the first two matches.

The District 6 primary between incumbent Ron Ford and Sonia Garcia may steal the show for local Democrats. The Aurora-based district was highlighted during the Census remapping of the county board. Aurora, with its 11% Black population, finds its sole Black representative in Ford.

However, Aurora Democrats have long believed Ford has too many Republican ties, especially to Kane County Treasurer Chris Lauzen.

Ford now faces Garcia, a first-generation U.S. citizen with Mexican heritage, who has positioned herself as having a better connection with the district.

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