Local race roundup – Part three
Alright readers! We’re heading into the home stretch with the second half of the Kane County board open seats analysis and one other interesting issue. So, without further ado:
This one pits three-term Republican incumbent, Phil Lewis, against primary opponent Steve Weber, also of St. Charles.
Like I’ve previously said, three terms is more than enough for any board member and, considering his long tenure, Lewis still fails to grasp the basic rules of order, any Kane County political or financial reality, and some of the stuff he comes up with makes you want to bang your head against the nearest wall.
There’s the monorail, his bizarre plan for randomly cutting county staff, and he continues to cling to a doomed-to-fail building permit fee increase as the panacea for the recent budget cuts. To say he’s in over his head after 12 years would be the mildest of understatements. I don’t dislike Phil, but he’s become a political embarrassment and it’s time for him to go.
The thing is, it’s virtually impossible to beat a Lewis in St. Charles, and while he’s certainly aggravated his peers, he hasn’t done anything to directly aggravate the voters, because they’re generally not that smart either.
If anyone does have a shot, it would be Weber, who’s backed by Chairman Chris Lauzen. And though I still believe chairmen should avoid trying to unseat board members, this is the one case where I’m more than OK with it.
I’d actually like my board member to actually be able accomplish something.
There is no Democratic candidate in this demonstrably Republican district.
Let’s move on to this Campton Hills based district in which five-term incumbent Barb Wojnicki has two Republican primary opponents, Robert Koonce and Austin Lawler. This three-way dynamic, of course, virtually guarantees her reelection.
With Lauzen supporting Koonce and Lawler’s late Friday afternoon entry, my suspicion was Wojnicki “encouraged” Lawler to enter the race as a “spoiler” who would split any vote against her. This morning, when I saw that Lawler’s signature sheets were notarized by 16th District board member, Mike Kenyon, those suspicions were confirmed.
The irony is, under former Chairman Karen McConnaughay’s reign, Wojnicki and Kenyon were on vastly different sides of the political fence. But when Kenyon got the Forest Preserve chairmanship over Wojnicki, she and Chairman Lauzen started drifting apart.
Enter Kenyon who, tired of being in the anti-Lauzen board minority, is helping a former enemy on the basis of her willingness to more frequently break from the Chairman. Those shifting political sands certainly make for some rather strange bedfellows, don’t they?
So the Chairman set up a Wojnicki primary opponent only to be trumped by another savvy political move. Though it means giving up that coveted first ballot spot, there’s often merit in waiting until the last minute to turn in your paperwork – it eliminates spoilers.
The thing is, though I’ve always liked Barb, the county board wasn’t meant to become a career. Like I said, she’s already served five terms, becoming less effective with each one. It’s time to give someone else a shot.
And former nuclear submarine captain Koonce is a magnificent candidate.
But between her successful opposition to the proposed Maxxam rehab center and two primary opponents, Wojnicki will easily win a sixth term.
Meanwhile, in a clear case of political insanity, two Democratic contenders have entered the 15th District fray, Gerald Palmere of Elgin and Lucas Strom of Maple Park. While I certainly applaud the intestinal fortitude of anyone willing to throw their hat in the ring, and I’ve learned that Mr. Strom is an excellent candidate, no Democrat will EVER win any Campton Hills based seat of any kind.
I hope I wasn’t too subtle there.
Now, we swing around to Elgin where four-term incumbent Deb Allen faces newcomer Janice Bennett in the Democratic primary.
Once again, four terms is one too many (and Deb really isn’t a Democrat), but Bennett is supported by that wacky Elgin Township Democrat group, who are, in turn, supported by the former State Senator Mike Noland, Judge John Dalton and legend in his own mind, Rich Jacobs, posse.
And the last thing we need is any more of that group in any government position anywhere. But my opinion is immaterial here, because no one’s gonna beat Deb Allen – EVER!
She successfully switched parties when her district was remapped, something most candidates can’t pull off on their best day. She’s also a tireless worker who actually likes knocking on doors, and as I note in my impending ‘So You Wanna Win a Local Election’ book, Deb is the politest politician I’ve ever met.
And that’s an unbeatable combination.
She’s so engaging and so nice that, after one brief meeting with Deb, you’ll offer to start mowing her lawn for free.
There’s no Republican challenger in the heavily Democratic 17th District.
This northern Kane County district features two-term incumbent Kurt Kojzarek on the Republican side, and three Democratic candidates – Mohammed ‘Mo’ Iqbal, John ‘Jack’ Shales and Thomas Gibbons.
Iqbal has absolutely no shot because, having run for almost everything else and lost, he’s been tagged with the dreaded “perennial candidate” label. His name doesn’t help him either. Before you call me a racist, yet again, I don’t make the rules, I just report them.
Though the Shales name carries some weight in Elgin (Shales Parkway), John Shales is only distantly related to his more famous family member, Jack. His father, Jim, also ran for a number of offices, including county board, and lost. So, the “perennial candidate” albatross will likely hang around his neck as well.
He may be able to find his way out of this primary field, but he’ll never beat someone of Kojzarek’s campaign caliber in that still Republican district.
Other than the fact he lives in Elgin, I don’t know Mr. Gibbons, but considering his competition, if he works hard enough, he could just as easily win the Democratic nomination.
Meanwhile, Kojzarek ranks right up there with John Hoscheit and John Martin as one of the most effective Kane County Board members I’ve ever seen. He deserves a third shot after which he will likely aim a little bit higher.
With Becky Gillam stepping down, Gilbert’s Cliff Surges is the only Republican in the running, as is Democratic Dundee Township resident Tara Jacobsen.
If you recall, Surges did reasonably well against former Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay in the then newly formed 33rd State Senate District, so he shouldn’t have much of a problem here.
That doesn’t mean I’m casting any aspersions in Ms. Jacobsen’s direction. Even with her staunch anti-Longmeadow Parkway bridge platform, it will be very difficult for any Democrat to win against a reasonable GOP candidate in that generally Republican district.
Phew! The last one!
Maggie Auger is also stepping down, which opens the door to Republicans Jim Patrician of Algonquin and Jonathan Radke of Carpentersville. Algonquin resident Christopher Kious is the lone Democratic entry.
This may be the only Kane County Board district in which either political party has a shot and, since I really don’t know any of these candidates, this race will likely go to the one who works the hardest. And from the number of signatures they acquired, it looks like Mr. Radke might have the upper campaign work ethic hand.
Either tomorrow or Wednesday…
Despite warning the men and women in black that I was onto them, I’d bet my life savings that Judge David Akemann will retire today, which will trigger a countywide judicial primary, which is leading to a very interesting primary field.
We’ll cover those festivities either on a special Tuesday Quick Hits or on Wednesday.