Local Election

McHenry County voter turnout upticks for odd-year election to 15 percent

Tuesday’s verdict? A mix of change and preserving the status quo

The small minority of McHenry County voters who participated in Tuesday’s election upset the political order in some places and left it alone in others.

Voters in Lakewood handed majority control of the Village Board to an insurgent trustee they elected village president, along with a trustee slate he assembled under a new political party to lower taxes. But Lakewood residents and their fellow voters in Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 spurned a slate of anti-tax candidates and elected an incumbent and a slate backed by the teachers union.

Anti-tax slates for other school boards, which account for most of homeowners’ property tax bills, were larger and healthier than past elections, but likewise fared poorly. Six such candidates ran in McHenry School District 15, where six of the board’s seven seats were up for grabs because of resignations – only two prevailed.

Voters handed other local governments split decisions on change. The two open seats on the McHenry County College Board of Trustees were given to incumbent Vice Chairwoman Linda Liddell and former McHenry County Board member Diane Evertsen, who promises fiscal reform and has a track record of voting against spending to back it up.

Evertsen ran with a like-minded candidate in hopes of joining forces with two fiscal hawks on the Board of Trustees to form a majority, but the other candidate fell short. However, voters chose Evertsen over two other establishment candidates with ties to MCC.

Voters in McHenry Township also sent a mixed message on change that could set up four years of acrimony, courtesy of a schism in township Republican politics that pitted newcomers against incumbents who quit the party over the caucus rules and ran as independents instead.

Republican candidates defeated the incumbent independents for all four trustee seats and unseated the village clerk. However, the incumbent township supervisor and highway commissioner narrowly survived challenges from GOP candidates.

Despite this, two of the winners signal that reform is on township voters’ minds.

The top vote-getter in the 12-candidate trustee field was Wonder Lake barber Bob Anderson, who is one of the loudest and oldest voices in the state for abolishing township government all together.

Dan Aylward, the Republican who handily won village clerk, sparked an anti-tax movement last year by paying his property taxes in dollar bills.

Municipal races also were a mixed bag – voters kept the status quo in some municipalities and gave the reins to newcomers in others.

Incumbent Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager easily defeated two challengers to win a fourth term, and the three incumbents on the Crystal Lake City Council likewise fended off two challengers with ease.

Marengo Mayor Don Lockhart lost his bid for a fourth term to newcomer John Koziol. In Lake in the Hills, Village President Paul Mulcahy – who was dogged by a charge of domestic battery – lost his bid for a second term to Trustee Russ Ruzanski.

Support on the Algonquin Village Board for the Longmeadow Parkway project likely cost longtime trustees Bob Smith and Brian Dianis their seats, which they lost to challengers Laura Brehmer and Janis Jasper, who live near the planned parkway and oppose it.

In Cary, where two slates lined up behind both mayoral candidates, incumbent Mayor Mark Kownick leads challenger Jim Cosler by 21 votes, according to unofficial totals. But two of the three trustee seats went to the faction backing Cosler’s run.

Regardless of location, voters apparently were in no mood to let former officeholders get their jobs back.

Voters in McHenry overwhelmingly chose political newcomer Wayne Jett over former Mayor Steve Cuda to succeed outgoing Mayor Sue Low. Former MCC Trustee George Lowe came in dead last in that five-way race, and former Hebron Village President Frank Beatty came in last in a four-way race for the job.

Hebron’s voters weren’t looking for change so much as a return to normalcy after four years of notoriety under Village President John Jacboson, who was arrested twice on crack cocaine charges. Voters selected newcomer Kimberly Martinez to fill the office. Jacobson in both his 2013 and 2017 races had drug charges pending at the time of the election.

The Democratic Party’s attempts to make political inroads in township races in GOP-dominated McHenry County were unsuccessful Tuesday. The sole Democratic victor was McHenry Township Assessor Mary Mahady, who ran unopposed for a second term.

Fifteen percent of county voters cast ballots Tuesday, which does buck a trend of steady decrease in participation in odd-year consolidated elections over the past two decades. Just less than 11 percent of voters cast ballots in 2015, according to records.

Tuesday’s results cannot be made official until later this month, after a period to allow for vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked before the election.

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