Chairman Lauzen backing some Democrats in Kane board races
Kane County Republicans are taking a close look at county board Chairman Chris Lauzen's campaigning for three Democrats in Aurora.
Lauzen, in an interview Wednesday, acknowledged making calls and sending out letters in support of Blanca Rodriguez, Anita Lewis and Brian Gravenhorst.
All are running as Democrats to unseat incumbent Democrats who are in Lauzen's doghouse. Rodriguez has a Democratic voting record. Lewis and Gravenhorst have long histories of pulling Republican ballots.
Lauzen said the three are running as Democrats because it is very difficult for a Republican to win in those Aurora districts. Lauzen, who lives in Aurora, is urging voters to put aside party labels and back candidates for their policies.
He said the three support a frozen county property tax levy, pledge to attend all meetings they are paid to be at and will not raid reserve funds during positive economic times.
"I don't care if they are Republican, Democrat or a Martian," Lauzen said. "If you vote to raid my reserves, that's a strike against you. When you don't vote to support the property tax levy freeze, I'm against you. And when it comes to a moment of accountability for all that, that's what elections are for."
The Aurora incumbents targeted by Lauzen say they are under fire for not supporting a 33 percent raise for Lauzen and not going along with his efforts to increase his power.
"I'm not a rubber stamp," incumbent Monica Silva said during a recent Daily Herald endorsement interview. Her opponent is Gravenhorst.
"I'm not a 'yes' woman. I will vote the way I feel I should vote. And I have no problem being scolded in public or otherwise. But I will not tolerate disrespect, and a lot of times I think we have tolerated that with the chairman."
Don Ishmael is the Democratic incumbent running against Lewis. He said Lauzen has a vendetta against anyone who isn't in lockstep with the chairman's agenda.
"The chairman does not want people who will support his tax freeze," Ishmael said. "He wants people who he can tell how to vote on issues without challenging him. We don't work for the chairman. It's the other way around."
Myrna Molina is the other Aurora-based candidate targeted by Lauzen. She could not be reached for comment.
She's drawn negative attention from Lauzen by being the only board member to consistently vote against reimbursing his personal expenses, including magazine subscriptions, lunches and conference registrations. Molina had said the reimbursements are not in line with what the board would approve for any other county employee.
Democratic county board members aren't the only local political rivalries Lauzen has. There is tension within his own party.
Ken Shepro, Lauzen's most recent challenger for the chairman's seat, is the new leader of the Kane County GOP. Shepro said the party is aware of Lauzen's activities on behalf of Democrats, but he had no specific comment about what those activities might mean for Lauzen's future in the party.
Lauzen said he doesn't care what the local party thinks.
"I've never been a big partisan," Lauzen said. "My biggest political fights have been against people like Dennis Hastert, George Ryan and Jim Oberweis. I think everybody understands me well enough. What are they going to say? That I'm a Democrat? I'll put up my voting record against anyone. I'm a conservative."