Another candidate joins GOP primary race in western county

A former independent candidate will make the McHenry County Board’s rural western district a contested Republican primary race.

Larry Smith, a retired Harvard businessman, is running as a Republican for District 6, which covers the western half of the county. He will run against incumbents Ersel Schuster and Michele Aavang for two open seats.

Smith ran as an independent in 2012 – while he lost to the four Republican candidates in the election, he received more votes than the three Democratic challengers.

“I think there’s some room for improvement,” Smith said of his reasons for running again. “I’m not pleased with some of the votes our present representation has gone with.”

District 6 covers all or part of 11 townships making up the county’s rural western half, which includes Harvard, Marengo, Hebron and Union.

Other likely contested GOP primaries for County Board include District 1, where three candidates have pulled petitions, and District 3, which could be a five-way race for two open seats. District 1 covers southern and eastern Algonquin and a sliver of Grafton townships, and District 3 covers Nunda Township, southeastern McHenry and northeastern Algonquin townships.

District 3 board member Mary McClellan, whose term expires next year, has decided instead to run for county clerk. She will run in the primary against fellow board member Nick Provenzano and county clerk’s employee Keith Addison. Provenzano does not have to give up his seat to run, because his term does not expire until 2016.

Three of the four countywide office holders whose terms expire next year – County Clerk Katherine Schultz, Treasurer Bill LeFew and Sheriff Keith Nygren – are not seeking re-election. All three have contested GOP primaries.

Crystal Lake City Council member Jeff Thorsen and Chief Deputy Treasurer Glenda Miller are running to replace LeFew, and Undersheriff Andrew Zinke and former Des Plaines Police Cmdr. Bill Prim are running to replace Nygren. Independent candidate Jim Harrison may run in November against whomever wins the sheriff’s primary.

All but one of McHenry County’s incumbent state legislators are running for re-election. Republican state Rep. Tim Schmitz is not running again, but Republican Reps. Mike Tryon, Barbara Wheeler and David McSweeney and Democratic Rep. Jack Franks are seeking re-election. Franks will have a Republican challenger next November in Steven Reick, of rural Harvard. Republican Sen. Karen McConnaughay is also seeking another term.

Also up for election next year are all statewide constitutional offices, the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, and all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A binding referendum will be put to voters in March asking whether they want to directly elect the McHenry County Board chairman.

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