Candidates line up for DuPage County forest preserve elections

Democrats running for seats on the DuPage County Forest Preserve board can expect a quieter primary season than the near double-digit field of candidates on the Republican side.

GOP contenders face competitive primaries in three forest preserve districts, while Democrats will go unchallenged in the June 28 primary.

But during the main event - November's general election - both parties are preparing for contested races for all six spots on the board and the forest preserve district's top post.

Every seat is up for election because of redistricting. In another twist to this election cycle, the Democratic-led forest preserve commission established political boundaries separate from the county board. Previously, the county and forest preserve boards had the same district lines.

The filing period for candidates to secure a place on the ballot has ended, but the deadline to file objections to nominating petitions is March 21. Here's a look at the candidate field:

Forest preserve president

Woodridge Democrat Daniel Hebreard is seeking a second term leading the forest preserve board. Four years ago, Hebreard defeated Republican Joseph Cantore by 702 votes.

With Hebreard at the helm, the board last November approved issuing $41.5 million in bonds to fund an extensive overhaul of Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, renovations of the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook and other master-plan projects. Officials say they will not have to raise property taxes to complete the projects.

Hebreard began working for the forest preserve district as a ranger in 2005.

Former county board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, a mainstay of the Republican establishment in DuPage, has launched a GOP challenge. Schillerstrom served three terms as chairman. He's now a Morton Arboretum trustee.

"Conservation, preservation and environmental protection have been hallmarks of my public service career," Schillerstrom said in a campaign announcement.

District 1

Republican incumbent Marsha Murphy is running for reelection. She's expected to face challenger Michael Murray, a Roselle Democrat, in November. Murray led an effort to create a mental health board in Bloomingdale Township.

Murphy was first elected to the seat representing the northeastern portion of the county in 2001.

District 2

Don Krause and Kelli May will square off in the primary to represent the Republican Party next fall in the race for the District 5 seat held by Lombard Democrat Tina Tyson-Dunne.

Tyson-Dunne is vying for a second term. She's chief of staff for state Rep. Deb Conroy, who's running for DuPage County Board chair. Tyson-Dunne also is a certified master naturalist through the University of Illinois Extension.

District 3

Republican incumbent Linda Painter is unopposed in the primary. But Painter is headed for a matchup with Westmont Democrat Marybeth Carlson in November.

Painter is a retired pediatric nurse from Willowbrook who has served on the board since 2008.

District 4

Former county board member Tim Elliott and Glendale Heights Republican Dominic Capone are vying for the party's nomination.

An attorney from Glen Ellyn, Elliott finished 337 votes short of retaining his District 4 seat on the county board in the 2020 election when Democrats made historic gains.

Elliott said he's found many of the projects that are most important to him - in particular, the East Branch DuPage River Trail - are closely tied to the forest preserve district.

The primary winner will advance to the November general election to take on incumbent Jeff Gahris, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

A Wheaton resident now in his first term, Gahris is a retired environmental engineer who worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Ohio.

District 5

Democratic incumbent Barbara O'Meara is running for reelection. She faces a Republican challenge from Elizabeth Folk Van Arsdell of Naperville.

O'Meara, a licensed environmental health practitioner, won the seat in 2020.

District 6

Wheaton Republican Louis Addante and incumbent Al Murphy are competing for the party's nod in the primary.

Addante has spent his career as a DuPage forest preserve police officer.

Murphy is a former West Chicago alderman who was first elected to the forest preserve board in 2014.

The GOP primary winner will face former Winfield Village President Erik Spande in November.

Daily Herald file photoBob Schillerstrom
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