Incumbent Lake County mayors hold leads but surprises surface

  • Lake Zurich Mayor Tom Poynton won his third term, defeating challenger Jeffrey Halen.

      Lake Zurich Mayor Tom Poynton won his third term, defeating challenger Jeffrey Halen. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/7/2021 12:19 AM

Mayors in closely watched Lake County races in Mundelein and Lake Zurich were among several incumbents who won their reelection bids Tuesday, but Antioch is headed for a change in leadership at the top.

Longtime Antioch Mayor Larry Hanson's campaign for one last term has ended. Hanson's pitch for experience in the three-way race was met by two challengers who made the need for a fresh perspective their cornerstone.


Local attorney Scott Gartner, who rang up several key endorsements in the last days of the campaign, and finished with 1,301 votes to Hanson's 745. Stacy Ellis trailed with 321 votes.

Votes are unofficial and include early voting and mail-in ballots but not late-arriving mail and provisional ballots.

Hanson served 14 years as a village trustee before being elected mayor in 2009. A lifelong resident, he cited 11 straight balanced budgets as well as initiatives to attract and retain businesses.

In a personal message to voters, he asked for a final term to finish various projects, including the revitalization of the Pittman property and downtown area.

But Gartner called for a fresh start and vision.

In Mundelein, incumbent Mayor Steve Lentz, who is seeking a third term, held off stiff challenges from three veteran officials in a tough race.

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Lentz finished with 1,409 votes to best veteran village Trustee Robin Meier, who had 893 votes, Thomas Ouimet, vice president of Mundelein High School District 120, with 703 votes, and longtime village Trustee Dawn Abernathy, with 643 votes.

The condition of roads and infrastructure and the best approach to redevelop downtown were hot topics in Mundelein and other communities.

In Lake Zurich, incumbent Tom Poynton won a third mayoral term. Poynton led from the start and finished with 1,477 votes to 897 for former trustee Jeffrey Halen.

During the campaign, Poynton stressed that since he was elected to the board, the village has stabilized its financial outlook and new businesses have opened.

Wauconda and Gurnee also will each have new mayors as incumbents chose not to run.

In Wauconda, village Trustee Jeff Sode beat Sandra Jo McClain by a wide margin of 975 votes to 280. In Gurnee, Thomas Hood beat David Weinstein by a count of 2,719 to 1,983 votes.


Elsewhere, incumbent Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne won an eighth term with 1,165 votes to attorney Brian Lohse's 823. Byrne said that if he wins, it would be his last term.

Incumbents won in Round Lake Beach and Lake Villa. In Round Lake Beach, incumbent Scott Nickels had 932 votes to Nitai Pandya's 634, and Lake Villa Mayor James McDonald had 482 votes to 378 for challenger Allison "AJ" Johnson. Round Lake Park Village President Linda Lucassen trailed challenged German Lopez Santiago for most of the night but rebounded to pull ahead by a margin of 282 votes to 240.

The ballot was packed throughout Lake County as residents in 42 communities elected mayors or village presidents Tuesday. But 27 of them -- or nearly two-thirds of the races -- were uncontested. They included veteran incumbent mayors such as Donny Schmit in Fox Lake, Rhett Taylor in Grayslake, Gerry Daley in Hainesville, Dominick DiMaggio in Hawthorn Woods, Nandia Black in Kildeer, Ryan Weihofen in Lakemoor and Terrance Lumpkins in Round Lake Heights.

Donna Johnson was unchallenged in her bid to replace Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler, who did not run for reelection.

Tiny Mettawa is in a category of its own. Former Mayor Jess Ray is the only candidate on the ballot for that spot but is being challenged by Casey Urlacher, who is seeking a third term as a write-in candidate. Urlacher was still facing federal gambling charges and missed the ballot filing deadline. He chose the write-in route after being pardoned by former President Donald Trump.

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