Looking like big night for conservatives in Kane County

Ron Ford, running for Kane County Board District 6
Randy Hopp, left, and Verne Tepe are Democratic candidates for Kane County Board District 22.
Jonathan Gripe, left, and Mark Davoust are the candidates in the GOP primary race for a District 14 seat on the Kane County Board. Shaw Local News Network
Kane County Board member Bill Roth, right, is being challenged in the GOP primary by Michelle Geen for the Republican nomination for the District 12 seat.

The Kane County Board appeared to swing to the right Tuesday as three conservatives who align themselves with former President Donald Trump were on the verge of sweeping out their more moderate colleagues.

If the early unofficial results as of 9 p.m. Tuesday night stood, the formation of Kane County’s version of a Freedom Caucus may have begun with Trump-friendly conservatives unseating at least two fellow Republicans, each with more than a decade of experience.

Half of the 24-member county board was up for election. Eight of the 12 county seats on primary ballots are represented by Democrats. But few challenges in the Democratic primaries placed the attention on the Republican primary, where three of the four GOP races were contested.

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

Tuesday represented a chance for those concerns to gain more of a foothold.

In perhaps the biggest upset of the night, Jonathan Gripe was headed toward defeating fellow Republican Mark Davoust in the St. Charles/Campton Hills-based District 14. Gripe had a 254-vote lead, nearly doubling Davoust’s total, with 822 ballots counted. That compares to 1,581 ballots cast in the same district when Davoust ran an unopposed primary in 2022.

Likewise, longtime District 16 representative Mike Kenyon lagged behind conservative Republican challenger Eric Stare by 127 votes. Kenyon has served the South Elgin-based district for 18 years. There were 783 ballots counted as of 9 p.m. That compares to 928 ballots cast when Kenyon had an unopposed primary in 2022.

In District 12, GOP incumbent Bill Roth was barely holding onto the seat he just won in November 2022. Roth led by 15 votes over his fellow GOP opponent Michelle Geen in the early returns. There were 571 votes counted as of 9 p.m. in a district that saw 1,661 total ballots cast when Roth won the Geneva/St. Charles-based seat.

Roth positioned himself as a fiscal conservative but may have run afoul of the more conservative elements of his party by being open to a new facility for the county health department. Local conservatives vilified the department during the COVID-19 pandemic. Geen ran in opposition to the new health facility.

For the Democrats, incumbent Ron Ford was down nearly 100 votes to Sonia Garcia in the early returns. Ford is seen as more conservative than some Democrats would like. As of 9 p.m., there were 486 ballots counted in an Aurora-based district that saw 752 ballots cast during Ford’s primary in 2022.

Vern Tepe in the Elgin-based District 22 had nearly four times as many votes as his fellow Democrat Randy Hopp in the early returns. Tuesday marked the third straight contest among the two men.

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