Incumbent Lake County board member touts record, but District 1 opponent says she's out of touch
Voters in the Antioch area will choose between a 14-year incumbent running on a record of service and fiscal responsibility and a newcomer who says his "life experiences" make him more qualified to represent District 1 on the Lake County Board.
Republican incumbent Linda Pedersen of Antioch says serving constituents on various issues is among the highlights of her tenure.
Democratic challenger Brian Hayden of Wadsworth, a recovering opioid addict, contends his opponent is out of touch with residents and fresh ideas are needed.
Both say the opioid epidemic is an important issue. Pedersen said she is aware of Hayden's past, which includes several arrests, but has declined to comment.
Hayden, a self-employed handyman who marked five years of recovery earlier this year, said he was asked to run by the party because his life experiences would be a valuable asset.
Pedersen is on the board of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, which develops and implements programs to reduce the use of opioids and other substances.
District 1 is in the far northern part of Lake County stretching to the Wisconsin line.
It includes all or parts of Antioch, Lindenhurst, Old Mill Creek and Wadsworth, encompassing the largest unincorporated area in Lake County.
Keeping constituents informed is important, said Pedersen. She would like to see a 4-cent per gallon gas tax repealed and a leaf burning ban lifted with restrictions put in place. Pedersen opposed both measures.
"It's our responsibility to listen to our constituents," she said. "You can't come to the county board with an agenda."
As a former Antioch Township board member and legislative assistant for two state representatives, Pedersen said she has put a great understanding of government services.
Pedersen listed flat tax levies the past three years while maintaining a bond rating of AAA among her achievements on the board.
She opposed video gambling but successfully argued to have the annual revenue of about $750,000 placed in a grant program for social services.
"I felt it was important we take that money and put it to good use," she said.
A consolidated 911 center and a comprehensive program to replace septic systems with sewers are important issues for the district, she added.
Hayden said he became addicted after being prescribed opiates for a work injury. He acknowledged being on a "dark path" involving numerous arrests over the years because of his addiction.
He said it's important to prioritize addiction issues in District 1 as Antioch and Lake Villa have the highest overdose rates in the county.
Many of the victims are high school students, according to Hayden.
He said he held two pop-up events involving the opioid antidote Narcan and wants to expand the program into high schools. Addressing the issue at the county level will save lives and reduce crime, Hayden said.
"The more people we can help, the more money we can save in criminal justice and health care costs," he said.
Hayden said he would regularly invite residents to meet and hear their concerns.