Hill replaces Koehler as County Board chairman

WOODSTOCK – A new McHenry County Board with the largest freshman class in decades ended the eight-year reign of Chairman Ken Koehler on Monday morning.

The newly seated County Board elected Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, to a two-year term as chairwoman, beating Koehler, R-Crystal Lake, and two other challengers. It took two votes before Hill secured the 13 votes needed for a majority on the 24-member board.

Hill handily won with 14 votes, defeating Koehler’s four votes. Candidates Ersel Schuster, R-Woodstock, and newcomer Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, received three votes each.

“We have lots to do and as a team, I’m confident we can accomplish them,” Hill said after taking the seat.

The new board also decided to change the vice chairmanship as well, replacing John Jung, R-Woodstock, with James Heisler, R-Crystal Lake.

Heisler won in one round of voting with 13 votes. Jung and freshman Michael Skala, R-Huntley, also received votes.

Koehler, who had served as chairman since 2004, received a standing ovation from board members and county staff after Hill recognized him. He ended up in the seat in which he started out in after his 2000 election, after senior members got the chance to move to seats occupied by freshmen.

County staff and those who voted for him hailed Koehler as one of the reasons the county is financially secure during troubled financial times.

“It’s certainly a difficult feeling sitting back here, but it’s certainly a relief in many, many ways,” Koehler said.

Nine new members, more than one-third of the 24-member board, were sworn in Monday. All 24 seats on the County Board were up for election this year because of redistricting after the 2010 U.S. Census.

The number of new faces is the largest in at least 20 years. Seven new members won election after the 1992 redistricting that doubled the number of districts from three to six. One member of that freshman class, Heisler, is now the board’s longest-serving member.

Hill, who openly announced her candidacy for the chairmanship long before the Nov. 6 election, fell two votes short of the majority in the first round of voting. She secured it in the second round when three members – Jung, Donna Kurtz and Robert Nowak – switched allegiances. Jung and Kurtz, R-Crystal Lake, had nominated Koehler and Schuster, respectively. Nowak voted for Koehler in the first round.

The chairmanship pays $82,200 a year, compared with the $21,000 salary of a regular board member. The vice chairman makes the regular salary plus $5,000 extra.

One of Hill’s first responsibilities will be assigning chairmen and members to the board’s 11 standing committees. She assigned six members – one from each district – to a Committee on Committees that will help her make the assignments, which must be approved by the full County Board. Hill said she hopes to have the assignments ready for a vote by the board’s Dec. 18 or Jan. 3 meeting.

Five committees will need new chairmen, not counting any changes Hill wants to make – three no longer are board members, and Hill and Heisler must forfeit their committee chairmanships under County Board rules.

Four former County Board members lost their re-election bids: Republicans Mary Donner and Virginia Peschke in the March primary, and Republican Robert Bless and Democrat Kathleen Bergan Schmidt in the Nov. 6 election. Five others – Republicans Marc Munaretto, Scott Breeden, Barbara Wheeler, Peter Merkel and Randy Donley – did not seek re-election. Wheeler successfully ran instead for the new 64th District of the Illinois House of Representatives.

How they voted

The McHenry County Board on Monday elected Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, to a two-year term as McHenry County Board chairman.

Hill won on the second round of voting with 14 of the board’s 24 members. She defeated four-term incumbent Ken Koehler, R-Crystal Lake, who had four votes, Ersel Schuster, R-Woodstock, who had three, and newcomer Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, who had three.

Voting for Hill were Hill, Michele Aavang, R-Woodstock, Nick Chirikos, D-Algonquin, Sue Draffkorn, R-Wonder Lake, James Heisler, R-Crystal Lake, John Jung, R-Woodstock (*), Donna Kurtz, R-Crystal Lake (*), Robert Martens Sr., R-Spring Grove, Mary McCann, R-Woodstock, Mary McClellan, R-Holiday Hills, Anna May Miller, R-Cary, Robert Nowak, R-Cary (*), Michael Walkup, R-Crystal Lake, and Paula Yensen, D-Lake in the Hills.

Voting for Koehler were Koehler, Yvonne Barnes, R-Cary, Nick Provenzano, R-McHenry, and Sandra Fay Salgado, R-McHenry,

Voting for Schuster were Schuster, Diane Evertsen, R-Harvard, and John Hammerand, R-Wonder Lake.

Voting for Gottemoller were Gottemoller, Carolyn Schofield, R-Crystal Lake, and Michael Skala, R-Huntley.

(*) – Three board members switched their votes to Hill in the second round to secure her the needed 13-vote majority. In the first round, Jung and Nowak voted for Koehler, and Kurtz voted for Schuster.

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