One incumbent and two challengers – one of whom is famous for his legal duels with the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office – are running for two open seats in County Board District 5.
Incumbent John Jung is running against Michael Rein, who barely lost his 2012 election bid; and Zane Seipler, a former deputy sheriff who was fired, won his job back in court, but was fired again for lying under oath in his lawsuit against outgoing Sheriff Keith Nygren.
District 5 covers all of Dorr Township and central Grafton Township, including most of Woodstock and parts of Bull Valley, Lakewood, Lake in the Hills and Huntley. The two winners will run in November against Democratic incumbent Paula Yensen of Lake in the Hills.
The three candidates, all from Woodstock, cited different top priorities to the Northwest Herald Editorial Board if elected. Rein, a chiropractor, cited tax relief and improving the local economy.
“Taxes in our county are ranked in the top 25 ... in the nation. This to me does not translate to an effective and efficient government,” Rein said.
Seipler, a Navy veteran, said he wants to improve transparency and accountability in county government, which he alleges is sorely lacking today.
“There is much that can be done to make McHenry County government open and accessible to those that desire and deserve accountable, honest government,” Seipler said.
Jung, who owns an onion packaging and distribution business, said he wants to see the new Unified Development Ordinance and stormwater ordinances implemented, and as chairman of its legislative committee wants to push for more state and federal funding to improve infrastructure. He also wants to prioritize initiatives that foster sustainable economic growth.
“My experience as a business owner provides me with a strong understanding of the importance of sound fiscal policies and responsibility. It has also taught me to make tough decisions – decisions that are based on the long-term result, not the immediacy of short-term success,” Jung said.
All three candidates agreed that the County Board should continue the practice of keeping its tax levy frozen, and rejecting the automatic inflationary increase that taxing bodies are entitled to under the tax cap.
“Given the current economic times, the county should take the lead in stabilizing the tax burden of its citizens,” Jung said. “Through good stewardship, the county has been able to keep the levy flat while still providing services to its residents.”
All three candidates oppose the referendum on the ballot to make the County Board chairmanship directly elected by the voters, rather than chosen from among the 24-member board every two years. Jung and Rein said direct election will open up the chairmanship to special interests because of the money needed to win.
“If the referendum were to pass, the chairmanship would revert to a four-year term, and as is the result in many elections, the candidate with the most signs and campaign fliers will hold the office,” Seipler said.
But they differed when asked whether the County Board kept an adequate eye on the Mental Health Board, which has undergone significant change under financial pressure and after coming under fire for its size and spending. Jung stressed that the County Board’s sole power over the agency is the appointment of its board, and said he helped align the agency’s personnel policies with those of county government.
But Rein and Seipler alleged that the County Board could have done more. Seipler alleged that the County Board for years turned a blind eye because of “cronysim and personal relationships.” Rein cited a lack of oversight, and chided the County Board for allowing the Mental Health Board to borrow $4 million to build a huge expansion that now sits mostly vacant.
“Funding a very large brick and mortar building instead of using that money to help those people that need it was not the answer,” Rein said.
Jung was first elected to the County Board in 1994, minus a two-year absence when he lost his 2008 re-election bid. He has served several previous terms as the board’s vice chairman. He also faces a contested race for precinct committeeman for Dorr Township 11 against attorney Robert Hanlon.
On the Net
You can learn more about the candidates and the issues in the March 2014 primary election at www.NWHerald.com/election-central.