No love lost in many county races

Posted3/18/2012 4:40 PM

Redistricting and lot of politicians trying to jump to new offices will bring plenty of intrigue to Kane County ballots besides the presidential names at the top of the ticket.

Every Kane County Board seat is up for re-election as well as three countywide elected offices. There are also several heated contests on both the state and federal level that local voters will weigh in on Tuesday. Here's a look at some of the hotter races in the Kane County area to vote on or watch on election night:

11th Congressional

The fight on the Republican side of the ballot occurred in courtrooms rather than polling places. Ultimately, Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham lost his chance at the seat, but it was too late to wipe his name off the ballots. Longtime Congresswoman Judy Biggert is now alone in the race, but it will still be important for her to pull a big number on election night to show she can win in a new congressional district that has a large population of Democrats.

Three candidates are on the Democratic ballot. Former Congressman Bill Foster has a large campaign war chest, but Aurora resident Juan Thomas and Orland Park resident Jim Hickey have been trying to trump Foster's dollars with energetic campaigns.

14th Congressional

Incumbent Randy Hultgren was saved from a heated race when fellow Congressman Joe Walsh decided to run in a different district. That turned the spotlight on two Democrats who entered the fray to try to win back the seat for Democrats after Hultgren beat Foster in the last election. Democrats Dennis Anderson and Jonathan Farnick agree on a lot of the issues. But while Farnick has his focus on the federal budget and the nation's debt, Anderson believes Congress isn't doing enough to help those in need.

33rd State Senate

Republicans Karen McConnaughay and Cliff Surges have both gone on the attack to draw a contrast for voters. McConnaughay has faced accusations of pay-to-play politics from Surges and several other local officials who aren't even in the contest. She fended off those charges while drawing into question Surges' record of late property tax payments. That's just one example of the fireworks in a race that turned out to be much more contested than many originally thought after the district appeared to be tailor-made for a McConnaughay run. The winner isn't even guaranteed the seat as Carpentersville Trustee Doug Marks recently announced he'll seek the seat as Libertarian in November.

Kane chairman

The two Democrats and two Republicans vying for the seat have created possibly the most contentious race in the area. Democrat Sue Klinkhamer has been labeled a Republican mole by members of her own party, and she's created an interesting political experiment by doing virtually no campaigning other than participating in debates. That's left her opponent, Bill Sarto, without much fuel to run the aggressive campaign he's itching for. The result has been a campaign war that's been fought mostly through barbs they've traded on their Facebook pages.

On the Republican side, Kevin Burns and Chris Lauzen have gone after each other with vitriol ranging from pseudo cuss words to allegations of illegal use of taxpayer resources. The race has been so nasty that local Republican leaders may have a lot of work to do to drum up wide-ranging support for the winner throughout the party for the general election.

Kane circuit clerk

The three Republicans in the race have made it clear they aren't big fans of each other. But this is another race where outside voices have used some negative words to try to sway voters. Cathy Hurlbut was added to the McConnaughay pay-to-play accusations by fellow Kane County Board member Jim Mitchell last week. Meanwhile, current Circuit Court Clerk Deb Seyller (who chose not to run for re-election) has taken shots at both Hurlbut and Tom Hartwell on her website. Both Hartwell and Karin Herwick have taken their fair share of subtle shots at their fellow candidates during public debates, leaving it anyone's guess as to the identity of the front-runner.

Kane coroner

Republicans Dr. Bob Tiballi and Rob Russell have made the contest a one-issue race. Should the coroner be a doctor, like Tiballi, or a peace officer, like Russell? Republican voters will chime in Tuesday. Democrat Tao Martinez awaits the winner.

Other races

• Longtime Kane County Board member Mike Kenyon's battle to stay on the board is against Republican challenger Robert Sauceda. Kenyon is chairman of the Kane County Republican Party. A loss for him could signal the end of his time on top.

• Dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, in his latest attempt to win election to a nonparty office, faces challengers in Richard Slocum and Blackberry Township Supervisor Dave Richmond for the Republican nomination for the 25th District state senate seat. Slocum is a former West Aurora schools trustee. Oberweis far outpaced Slocum and Richmond in fundraising, but Richmond was endorsed by the Daily Herald, the Kane County Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune.

On the Democratic ticket, St. Charles school trustee Corinne Pierog faces Steven L. Hunter. Pierog had previously run, unsuccessfully, for the old 28th state senate seat, losing to Randy Ramey.

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