Cunningham battles cancer, residency questions in final re-election bid

Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham confirmed this week he will seek one final term in office - while battling an illness and addressing questions about his legal residence.

Cunningham was diagnosed with colon cancer in June. It resulted in extensive surgery and some initial personal doubts about seeking re-election.

"When I was a young man, getting a diagnosis like that was basically the end, but now it turns out that's not the case," Cunningham said. He said he expects a full recovery and rates his health as "good."

That doesn't necessarily mean next year's election will be easy for him.

For the second straight time, Cunningham will face a Republican primary challenger. Stan Bond is a Montgomery village trustee, Illinois Republican State Central Committee member and one of Cunningham's former employees.

Cunningham said he expects a politically charged primary battle. Bond left the clerk's office when Cunningham eliminated his position. Cunningham has already received Freedom of Information requests seeking emails he's sent and received while serving as the clerk. He expects a petition challenge.

And photos are circulating of the home Cunningham lists as his legal residence on his nominating petitions. The images show a for-sale sign in the front yard of the Aurora residence.

Cunningham said he's lived in Kane County 76 years. The home is for sale, and he insisted it's his legal residence even though he doesn't spend all his time there.

"I pay the bills at that house," Cunningham said. "My driver's license is registered to that address. And I'm a precinct committeeman for the area that address represents."

Cunningham said he does spend weekends in Seneca - which is in LaSalle and Grundy counties - overseeing one of his private businesses. He said any questions about his legal residence are part of an old political game.

"I am a resident of the county," Cunningham said. "Selling the house would only be a problem if I intended to permanently leave the area. That's what the law says. And I plan on staying in the county."

Longtime Kane County political consultant Jon Zahm, who is supporting Bond, said Cunningham has been making statements and promises about where he lives for more than a decade. Zahm did campaign work for Cunningham in 2002 and 2006 when there were similar questions about where Cunningham really lives.

"I took him at his word back then and expected he would be returning to and living in that house, or at least to Aurora, and all these years later it doesn't seem like it's happened," Zahm said. "He would be better qualified at this point to run for LaSalle County clerk, where Seneca is, than in Kane County."

A for sale sign in front of Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham's Aurora home is fueling questions about his residency. courtesy of Jon Zahm
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