Two Lake County primary challenges set on first day of candidate filing

The primary election season began Monday in Lake County with longtime incumbent Republican county board members Steve Carson and Brent Paxton facing challenges from within their party.

A challenger to a Democratic incumbent county board member, Diane Hewitt, is expected to surface later. But overall, the turnout of candidates for the March 17 primary ballot brought few surprises.

Forty-one candidates filed simultaneously at 8:30 a.m., according to County Clerk Robin M. O'Connor. Many of those filing were for precinct committeeman seats, according to O'Connor's office.

Lake County offices to be nominated in the primary include: circuit court clerk; coroner; recorder; state's attorney; and, county board/forest preserve members for districts 1, 2, 4, 7, 12, 13 and 16, as well as wards 1, 2, and 4 of the North Shore Water Reclamation District trustee.

It's too soon to tell how many other primary candidates may emerge. The last day to circulate or file nomination papers is Monday.

Carlson, a Grandwood Park resident who has represented District 7 for 17 years, will face a primary challenge from Gurnee Trustee Greg Garner, who last year was elected to a fourth 4-year term.

Carlson has not had a primary opponent since he first ran in 2002. Garner's candidacy could be an indication of party's desire to have more conservative candidate in the seat.

“I consider myself a person who works with both sides,” Carlson said.

“If you want a hard-core Republican, that's not me,” he added.

Carlson said he will run on his record, including his support of making Lake County smoke-free, saving the Winchester House nursing facility, and the recent introduction of the 211 Lake County crisis hotline.

Garner said he is retired after 27 years in the pharmaceutical industry and has more time to commit to residents of Gurnee and Lake County.

“It's very early right now. I've basically just been focused on filing,” he said of his run.

Carisa Casbon, president of the Millburn Elementary District 24 school board, filed to run as a Democrat for District 7.

Brent Paxton, who has represented District 4, which includes Winthrop Harbor, Wadsworth and portions of Zion and Beach Park, since 2000, is being challenged by Alanna Whitmore, a Winthrop Harbor trustee.

Both Garner and Whitmore were recently endorsed by the Republican central committee.

In District 2, which covers portions of Waukegan, Gurnee, Beach Park, and Zion, Hewitt is expecting a primary challenge. She has served since 2008.

She said she has brought $64 million in road improvements to the district.

“I love what I do,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy if someone has a problem and you can help them.”

In October, Waukegan resident, small business owner and community advocate Lucila “Lucy” Rios announced she would challenge Hewitt. Rios said she would file Wednesday. She said enhancing economic opportunities and development are among her goals.

A potential primary race for the Democratic nomination for Lake County state's attorney didn't materialize as Matt Stanton, the 2016 party nominee for that office, announced Friday he would support Eric Rinehart, who filed nominating petitions Monday.

State's Attorney Mike Nerheim, a Republican, didn't file Monday but has said he will seek reelection. Republican incumbent Coroner Howard Cooper also is expected to seek reelection, as are Circuit Court Clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein and Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer, both incumbent Democrats.

For county board, Republican incumbent Linda Pedersen of Antioch and Democrat Chase Andrew Thomas of Lake Villa filed in District 1; incumbent Republican Mike Rummel of Lake Forest filed in District 12; incumbent Democrat Sandra (Sandy) Hart of Lake Bluff and Republican Lauren Fleming of Gurnee filed in District 13; and, in District 16 incumbent Democrat Terry Wilke of Round Lake Beach and Republican John C. Frazier of Round Lake filed.

Primaries likely in several congressional, suburban legislative races

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