A look at Fox Valley's hottest races

Updated 3/18/2012 5:45 PM

Redistricting and politicians trying to jump to new offices has brought plenty of intrigue to Fox Valley ballots besides the presidential names at the top of the ticket.

Every Kane County and McHenry County Board seat is up for re-election (that's all four seats in each of six McHenry districts.) And while there is no competition among the countywide positions in McHenry County, there's plenty to consider in Kane for county board chairman, coroner, circuit clerk and auditor.

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 Fox Valley area to vote on or watch for on election night:

• 8th Congressional District:

Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi are duking it out to face incumbent Joe Walsh in November. Krishnamoorthi is a former Illinois deputy treasurer who now runs a laboratory. Duckworth led the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs and was President Obama's assistant secretary of veterans' affairs. Both candidates are from Hoffman Estates. Their district includes portions of Kane, Cook and DuPage counties.

• 6th Congressional District

A trio of Democrats are competing for a chance to unseat Republican Congressman Peter Roskam in November. Leslie Coolidge, 52, a Barrington Hills accountant who decided to enter the race after the debt ceiling stalemate; Geoff Petzel, 28, a Lake Zurich business owner and environmentalist; and Maureen Yates, 76, a retired business owner from Barrington who says she is a party-line voter.

• 14th Congressional District

Incumbent Randy Hultgren was saved from a heated race when fellow Congressman Joe Walsh decided to run in the 8th Congressional District. That turned the spotlight on two Democrats who entered the fray to try and win back the seat for Democrats after Hultgren beat Bill 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 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 that seat as Libertarian in November.

22nd State Senate

Both Democratic candidates running for the 22nd District state senate race agree there needs to be state pension reform, but they have different ideas on what that means.

Tim Elenz, a Streamwood businessman and political newcomer, said perhaps it's time for the state to get out of the pension business.

The district includes parts of Elgin, Streamwood, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates and Carpentersville.

Incumbent Michael Noland, of Elgin, is working with other lawmakers on Gov. Pat Quinn's pension reform panel and said he is focusing now on learning and listening rather than advising or suggesting.

Elenz has spent a lifetime working in and around politicians in Chicago's wards and now has his own insurance brokerage business. His challenge against Noland is his first foray into candidacy. He said he is a strong supporter of skilled labor and believes in the potential of union control of pensions.

Noland said he has a law and economics background with no experience on prior pension committees in the state senate or house, which makes him a minority on the governor's pension reform panel. "I am somebody that comes to this with a fresh set of eyes," Noland said.

• 25th State Senate

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 state Senate district. 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 trustees Corinne Pierog faces Steven L. Hunter. Pierog had previously run, unsuccessfully, for the old 28th state Senate seat, losing to Randy Ramey.

The 25th District covers the vast majority of Kane County.

• 52nd State House

State Rep. Kent Gaffney of Lake Barrington, appointed last summer to succeed the late Mark Beaubien in the 52nd House District, which covers parts of Lake, Cook and McHenry counties, is challenged by Barrington Hills financial consultant David McSweeney of Barrington Hills -- a former congressional candidate -- as well as Tea Party candidate Danielle Rowe, an Island Lake marketing executive, in what has become a nasty campaign. The district includes western Lake County and portions of the Barrington and Crystal Lake areas.

• Kane County Board 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 Democratic opponent, Bill Sarto, without much fuel to run the aggressive campaign he's been 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 and sway voters. Cathy Hurlbut was added to the McConnaughay pay-to-play accusations by fellow Kane County Board Member Jim Mitchell this past week. Meanwhile, current Circuit Court Clerk Deb Seyller 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 so far.

• Kane Coroner

Republicans 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 Rob Russell? Republican voters will chime in Tuesday. Democrat Tao Martinez awaits the winner.

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