Field is crowded in Kane; but few challenges in McHenry County

Updated 12/5/2011 7:15 PM

Kane County voters will have a plethora of ballot choices that may create an entirely new dynamic in county elected offices come next November. The final day of candidate filing showed almost every race will give voters more than one candidate from whom to choose.

Indeed, only four of the 24 county board seats are uncontested.

But in McHenry County, there is only one Republican candidate for each of the five countywide offices. Not a single Democrat has filed, although the party still may put up candidates for those seats before the November election. But not all is quiet in McHenry County. There is a good amount of competition -- among Republicans at least -- for county board seats.

Kane County

Barring any write-in candidates or a party slating another candidate in coming months, the Kane County Board incumbents who stand a good chance to win new terms are John Hoscheit, Barbara Wojnicki and Phil Lewis.

Joining them will be Joseph Haimann, an unchallenged Democrat who will take over the Carpentersville-based county board seat currently represented by Hollie Lindgren.

Mark Mossman, director of elections at Kane County, said either party could still nominate a candidate for an office within 75 days after the March primary. That candidate would have to take all the same steps as other candidates, such as gathering petitions and filling out a statement of economic interest, Mossman said.

Almost every other county elected office on the ballot has a contested race, thanks to new entries on the last day of filing.

District 20 incumbent Cristina Castro will now have a primary race with fellow Democrats Jose Sifuentes and Penny Wegman. The winner will face Republican Henoch Fuentes in November.

In District 9, Theresa Wrzala will challenge incumbent T.R. Smith for the Republican nod.

In District 18, Republican incumbent Drew Frasz will face a challenge from Democrat Kerri A. Branson.

Democrat Brenda Rogers also will give incumbent Kane County Recorder Sandy Wegman a challenge. That means every countywide elected office on the ballot, except for state's attorney, will have a contest. In addition to the recorder, those offices are: circuit court clerk, auditor, coroner and county board chairman.

So far, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon is running unopposed for the office county board members appointed him to in 2010.

McHenry County

Most interesting about politics in McHenry County is who isn't running.

Longtime incumbents from four different McHenry County Board districts have decided not to run for re-election in March, opening the field for new faces and fresh ideas.

Marc Munaretto was first elected to District 1 in 1998 with a focus on finance. He said he wanted to adopt a strategic plan for the county, install fiscal controls, create a sustainable financial model and boost the county's credit rating to AAA -- which it was awarded by Moody's last April.

"I fulfilled and accomplished all of my goals and objectives as a county board member," Munaretto said. "I think it's appropriate for me, at this point, to step aside."

Munaretto, like one of his colleagues in the 3rd District, thinks it is time to let new board members work toward their own goals.

Barbara Wheeler was elected in 2002 for the board's 3rd District and, although she now is running for a state representative spot in District 64, already decided in 2010 this term would be her last.

"I loved being on the county board but I also saw a lot of great new talent coming forward and wanting to participate," Wheeler said.

Peter Merkel, elected in 2000 to District 4, also will pass up a chance for re-election. He said it was both a family and career decision to step back. Merkel is the director of parks and recreation with the City of McHenry and has amassed enough years to retire. Though he hasn't set a date yet, he doesn't want to chance being elected to another 4-year term.

Half of those elected will serve 2-year terms but it is decided in a draw after the election.

"I'm not going to run for something if I don't know that I can fully commit to finishing out the term," Merkel said.

Scott Breeden also will not run for re-election. He represents the second district but could not be reached for comment Monday as to why he chose to end his service.

District 6 has the largest field with 14 candidates vying for four spots. But as the filing period closed Monday evening, all six races were contested.

Multiple candidates in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 showed up in time for the 8 a.m. start of the filing period Nov. 28. There will be a lottery at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 to decide whose name appears first on the ballot.

• Staff Writer Harry Hitzeman contributed to this report.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.