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Lyons: It’s an election, not a holy war

Published: Sunday, March 9, 2014 12:04 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 9:58 a.m. CST

Two more weeks until the calendar says it’s spring – as practically useful as the odometer on your 2001 Dodge after the engine blew.

March is a good time to stop sniveling about winter no matter how bad it’s been. Spring is coming. This isn’t “Game of Thrones.” Winter is ending – at some point between Memorial Day and July 4. Book it.

Even better, in less than two weeks it’s the end of the primary election season. For the most part, it wasn’t too painful. Only the Illinois GOP governor’s race and the McHenry County sheriff’s contest have been nasty at times.

When spring arrives and the primary is behind us, what we should really hope for along with that first sunny, 70-degree day is that the Battle of Good vs. Evil is behind us. The Battle of Good vs. Evil is mostly framed by henchman on either side who believe their side is Good and the other is Evil.

Locally, not everyone falls neatly into these camps, but there are enough hardcore henchmen who have carried on the Battle of Good vs. Evil for several years now.

If you are one of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s truth warriors, you believe you are in the Good camp battling the Evil forces of McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren. If you are one of Nygren’s freedom fighters, the reverse is true.

Not sure whether living in such a black-and-white world is comforting or just a paranoid alternate reality. As an occasional consumer of dangling Internet comments over the years, my guess is the latter.

If one chooses to listen to it, there is a particular narrative floating around that Lou Bianchi is running against Keith Nygren for McHenry County sheriff on March 18.

Nevermind that neither Bianchi nor Nygren is running. Nevermind that both Undersheriff Andrew Zinke and retired Des Plaines police commander Bill Prim, grown men and experienced law enforcement professionals, are the actual candidates.

This is about Good vs. Evil. Nygren vs. Bianchi or Bianchi vs. Nygren. Evil vs. Good. Bunk. Balderdash. Hokum. Twaddle. Horsefeathers, and other things that come from horses.

Nygren and Bianchi once liked each other. For several years now, they haven’t. So what does that mean for the rest of us who aren’t named Nygren or Bianchi? Bupkis. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Doodley squat.

Most selling the race in those terms are doing so because they believe they personally have something to lose or gain, politically or in their career, or sometimes failed career. People who get this worked up have much more than some Biblical notion of good government or their literary image of heroes and villains at stake.

We don’t really have two legitimate political parties of significance in McHenry County so infighting among Republicans is the best we’ve got.

Expect weird alliances and kooky theories or any other tactics to be employed as individuals grab for power, jobs or political payback. No one’s battling for the Soul of McHenry County. Anyone who says he is also will likely sell you some holy water.

Much of the air left the balloon and some tinfoil hats should have been knocked askew when Bianchi’s federal civil rights lawsuit was tossed again last month. In it, Bianchi alleged a vast political conspiracy afoot in the failed corruption prosecutions against him.

The unsaid implication was that somehow, the sheriff and his minions were the puppet masters in Bianchi’s prosecution.

Even John Grisham would have blushed at the narrative of the lawsuit, which read like “50 Shades of Grey” for local political conspiracy theorists, but U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. (unless he’s one of THEM?) was unmoved.

“Plaintiff’s first amended complaint, the Court said, allege[d] that Bianchi’s Republican opponents wanted to unseat him, but it [did] not say why [special prosecutor Thomas] McQueen – appointed by Judge [Gordon] Graham – should be counted among those political opponents.

“In fact, the complaint [was] devoid of any allegation that [special prosecutor Henry] Tonigan or McQueen (or any other Defendant) even knew of the Plaintiffs prior to their appointments by Judge Graham, much less had any political axe to grind or animus towards them.”

Rest assured, some axes are still being sharpened anyway. But frankly, they don’t matter much, and they shouldn’t to voters. We should be as fascinated in the tribulations of these relationships as we should about a buddy complaining about his ex-wife.

The egos of guys not running for sheriff shouldn’t matter, either, and in the grand scheme of local government, they don’t.

So if you haven’t voted already, check out and read the candidates questionnaires. Even better, watch the video of Bill Prim and Andrew Zinke’s debate here:

Look at the candidate’s websites or speak with them in person if possible, but whatever you do, don’t concern yourself with the Battle of Good vs. Evil or other people’s petty personal politics. Make up your own mind.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.

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