Five candidates run for 4 open District 4 seats

Four Republicans and one Democratic candidate are running for District 4 of the McHenry County Board.

Running for the four open seats are Republican incumbents John Hammerand, Sandra Fay Salgado and Sue Draffkorn, GOP newcomer Bob Martens Sr. and Democratic challenger Mary Margaret Maule. All 24 seats on the County Board are up for grabs Nov. 6 because of post-census redistricting.

District 4’s boundaries, which include Burton, Richmond and most of McHenry townships, were unchanged under the remap.

The tentative 2013 county budget freezes the levy for next year’s bills, meaning county government will not collect the 3 percent increase that taxing bodies are entitled to under the tax cap. All five candidates said they would support freezing the levy again in 2014.

Salgado, human resources director for Pioneer Center for Human Services, said the county can find more places to cut the budget to compensate.

“With unquestioned spending in many areas of county business, we can reduce our dependency on tax dollars even more,” said Salgado, of McHenry.

Of the candidates, only Maule supports a referendum, spearheaded by Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks, that will ask voters whether they want to change county government to a county executive form. Under that form, voters elect an executive to handle the day-to-day operations of county government. An executive has wide-ranging powers under Illinois law, including veto power over board legislation and the power to draft the county budget.

Maule, a consultant living in Johnsburg, said that voters want a stronger voice in their county government. She pointed out that the board has long had the opportunity to put a referendum to voters so the public can elect the board chairman at large. Hammerand, Salgado and Martens said they support popular election of the chairman.

“I have heard from numerous members of the County Board that the community doesn’t understand the referendum, and I find that to not only be inaccurate, based on my conversations, but a bit arrogant,” Maule said.

All five candidates said they opposed efforts by the county’s state lobbying group, paid for by taxpayer dollars, to oppose a Franks bill that would forbid governments under the tax cap from collecting more in property taxes in years when their total assessed values decline.

Hammerand, a longtime small-business owner living in Wonder Lake, said taxpayers have a right to be outraged and called the lobbying “an affront to the public,” especially when it is figured in that county government’s property tax revenue has doubled over the past decade to more than $70 million. Hammerand, who has steadily voted against spending and revenue increases during his 14 years on the board, cited paying for lobbyists as one of the motivations for his “no” votes.

“My votes through the years will prove that I do not support any lobbying with taxpayer monies,” Hammerand said. “We have lobbyists elected and paid by the citizens of McHenry County – they are our congressmen, senators and state representatives.”

Salgado and Maule likewise said they support eliminating all county lobbying. Draffkorn noted that a number of ongoing road and bridge improvements would not have been possible without lobbying efforts.

Draffkorn, a Wonder Lake part-time bookkeeper, said holding the line on the county tax levy is her top priority. County government accounts for about 10 percent of homeowners’ property tax bills, with school districts typically making up the largest percentage.

“Every year when the tax bill arrives in the mail, taxes appear to be going up. In the past few years, the people in McHenry County have had to live with lower household income and rising prices. We need to put the brakes on government spending,” Draffkorn said.

Martens, retired chief of the former Family Service and Community Mental Health Center, said he will prioritize transportation improvements. The Spring Grove resident said he intends to work closely with county and state transportation officials to move forward on the Richmond Bypass, and work with Metra and Pace for additional commuter rail and local bus service.

Republican board member Peter Merkel is not seeking re-election.

On the Net

Visit Election Central at NWHerald.com/election to learn more about the races, candidates and issues in the Nov. 6 election.

McHenry County Board districts have changed slightly because of post-census redistricting. Visit http://shawurl.com/4q2 to see the new district boundary maps.

Visit the McHenry County Clerk’s website at www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/countyclerk to view sample ballots, lists of candidates and polling places.

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