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McHenry County Clerk (Republican)

Voting will take place Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Voters will be able to select 1 candidates in this race. The 1 candidates with the most votes will be elected.

Winner in this race will be elected for a term of 4 years.

Click a question below to display the candidates' answers to that question.

Why are you running for county clerk?

Mary McClellan

I am running for Clerk to bring fresh ideas and a commitment to the people of McHenry County. I will bring and maintain fiscal conservatism to the McHenry County Clerk’s office. I will control spending, reduce redundancies, and streamline inefficiencies to ensure we are spending every dollar wisely. I offer solid leadership qualities that can and will be utilized at the County Clerk office.

Nick Provenzano

My guiding principle as I have served the public on the McHenry County Board since 2002 has been a demand for respect for their hard-earned tax dollars. I worked to be their fiscal watchdog because I understand that it is their money that government is spending. That is why I successfully led the fight to keep the County tax levy flat for two years in a row and why I voted against pay raises for elected officials and government employees. I will take that proven track-record of fiscal conservatism to the County Clerk’s office. I will put my 25+ years of business experience to use examining the way the office works and seeking out new efficiencies and cost-saving measures. I will hold the line on spending, reduce redundancies, and streamline inefficiencies to ensure we are spending every dollar wisely. I believe the best government is the smallest, most efficient government that lives within its means and isn’t burdensome to families and businesses. Those we serve have had to tighten their belts, and with revenues down the county must do the same.

You are seeking to replace a long-time incumbent who held the office for decades. What do you plan to do to ensure continuity of services? What will you do the same or differently?

Mary McClellan

I will carry on Kathy Schultz legacy to protect the historical preservation of records in that office. I am not sure that many government workers, short of those responding to emergencies, understand the hours - days, nights, weekends and holidays - like the County Clerk staff do year in and year out. And they do it all, without shift changes or relief workers. Some may think they are “just clerks” and move a bunch a paper to the polls. They are very wrong. The staff and election workers do the work to ensure legal compliance, complex quality controls, troubleshooting and support for even the most disorganized or uninformed person who demands much. I will provide innovative ideas to introduce transparency, technology, efficiency, training, auditing elections’ accuracy. The responsibilities in the County Clerk’s office have changed considerably in the last 20 years. We now have five different “elections” with voting by mail, early in person, through grace registration, and provisional ballots processed after the election. These tasks will be done to ensure continuity of service to the voters.

Nick Provenzano

My first step if entrusted by the voters with their support will be to sit down with the outgoing Clerk and her key staff to map out a plan for ensuring that there is no break in the quality of services offered to the public when I take office. This is especially important because election laws continue to change so the office will be implementing a number of new processes in 2014 that will need to be continued as I take office. Then I will begin the modernization process as described in my answers below.

What can be done to make the clerk's office run more efficiently?

Mary McClellan

By making information more accessible to residents through the internet it will reduce the use of paper and eliminate the need to visit the office not always convenient to all in the County. Create an online ability to request ballot by mail negating the need to mail request in to office, whereby decreasing the amount of paper. Track clerks receipt of your voted ballot, if voting by mail. The other item would to be allowing credit card transactions for purchases at the clerk’s office.

Nick Provenzano

By increasing the use of technology in the office, we will be able to reduce inefficiencies which will improve the quality of our service while cutting costs for the taxpayers. These upgrades will need to be phased in gradually and strategically to ensure we can properly plan for the short-term costs that will lead to long-term savings.

What are your plans to modernize the office?

Mary McClellan

Legislative changes to election laws and deadlines for each election cycle often require website and newsletters to be updated rather quickly. We will help others link their website directly to the Clerks site, as to provide future updates and be assured that readers access current registration and voting information. Besides elections, the county clerk’s office handles vital records such as birth, death and marriage certificates. One of the office’s roles is calculating the total assessed valuation of McHenry County and its numerous taxing districts, thus determining how much in property tax revenue they can receive under the tax cap and other limits imposed by law. The vital records software no longer has vendor support that would be a priority in modernizing the office. The election software is working however it may not be as fast as some would like it is security has integrity wich is first and foremost. Additionally, I would like to Create an online voter resource Create a link to confirm your registration status and to view all your personalized election information; -sample ballot beginning 40 days prior to election, rather than just an all contest ballot -download a form to request a ballot by mail -online ability to request ballot by mail negating need to mail request in to office -create a tracking receipt of your voted ballot, if voting by mail -provide Election Day and early voting sites including driving directions and picture Provide training to election judges and recruit both Juniors and Seniors from High Schools to get involved in the election process which in turns helps the older judges learn the process of the new technology that can be challenging.

Nick Provenzano

I greatly respect outgoing Clerk Kathy Shultz’s service to our community and appreciate the hard work she put in to build a top-notch Clerk’s office. I intend to build on her successes by significantly advancing technology in the office, including making significant upgrades to the County Clerk’s website which is difficult to navigate and does not provide as much information to the public as it should. I have had the honor of working to advance a number of important causes and candidates over the years, interacting with many Clerk’s offices in the process. This experience gives me a unique perspective on what can be done to take the McHenry County Clerk’s office to the next level. Modernization will lead to long-term cost savings due to increased efficiency. It will also lead to better and more convenient access to the Clerk’s office for the people we serve. Further, it will increase security when storing and transmitting important documents. Finally, it will improve our election process, making it easier to vote, safeguarding the electoral process, and helping us more quickly and accurately report the results.

What can the clerk's office do to be more accessible to residents?

Mary McClellan

By the updating information online this will make the Clerk’s office more accessible to residents. With recent law changes allowing voter registration in Illinois it will eliminate a lot of the paper process in place currently. Also through outreach at High Schools and outreach to the public creates awareness the clerk’s office duties therefore making it more accessible.

Nick Provenzano

The best way to accomplish this is by enhancing the County Clerk’s website, as detailed in the answer to the modernization question above. Ultimately, I want to make interacting with the Clerk’s office easier, more efficient, and less expensive for all McHenry County residents. In addition to being accessible, it is important that the Clerk’s office becomes even more transparent so the public can keep us accountable. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many leaders whom I respect to bring about reform for the people of McHenry County. I have tried my best to be a conservative reformer. I have fought for increased transparency and accountability for our elected officials. I pushed to have Board Meetings streamed live on the internet. I led the fight for allowing the people of McHenry County to have a voice in selecting their County Board Chairman. As a countywide officeholder and the person who takes the minutes and keeps the records for the County, I can and will continue to be a strong voice advocating for reform in McHenry County. I will lead by example by making my office fully transparent and accountable to the public.

What is the most-pressing issue the clerk's office faces?

Mary McClellan

The steady march in our state to pass election laws that run Illinois elections by exception is a pressing issue. As your County Clerk it will be my consistent goal to deliver accessible, efficient, prompt, transparent and fair elections. There are modernizations that need to occur they just do not need to have millions of dollars attached to them.

Nick Provenzano

The most pressing issue facing the McHenry County Clerk’s office is the need to implement the many new laws coming out of Springfield that effect the operations of the Clerk’s office and more specifically elections within McHenry County. Major changes are coming down the pipeline, from 17 year olds being allowed to vote in Primary Elections to Voting By Mail and requesting applications online to online voter registration. It is imperative that the Clerk’s office implement these laws on time while also dealing with the fact that the implementation of these new laws incurs additional costs that we must not pass on to already over-burdened taxpayers. This is a significant challenge.

How would you differentiate yourself from your opponent?

Mary McClellan

My opponent is a career politician all you have to do is compare our resumes. I can be trusted to get the job done and can be trusted to provide commitment to the people of McHenry County. I have been a States Attorney for the last 4 years and in private practice prior to my service as such. There is a great deal of difference between working in office defending the County sometimes 60 hours weeks and being an elected county board member who served on the County Board since 2002, minus a two-year absence after a 2008 election defeat part time. My opponent claims that he voted against the raising of the Clerks salary for the next term and that I voted for it. What my opponent fails to mention is that the salary increase of 1% $1000.00 to all of the County Elected officials was set by a prior board. The Human Resource Committee voted to freeze the salary for the next term based upon prior board’s approval of the 1% increase for cost of living. My opponent skews the truth. If he is willing to make things seem as they are not when it does not matter, consider what he will do when it does matter. My opponent wants to modernize the clerk’s office by spending tax dollars to the tune of 3-4 million dollars to get election results faster. This would allow the election results to come in a couple of hours faster. The problem with this idea is that it compromises the integrity that is currently in place and would allow for hackers. The only people who are willing to spend millions or reduce the safety and integrity of the voting process are people on the ballot. The word modernization sounds good until it cost the taxpayer more money. The election results are not official until 2 weeks after the election so spending millions to get sooner results is just not fiscally conservative thinking. My opponent will claim Modernization will lead to long-term cost savings due to increased efficiency. The cost savings is not real it is just a sales pitch to get the taxpayers to spend unnecessary millions.

Nick Provenzano

My business experience lends itself to conducting the business of the Clerk’s office. I have been involved in economic development for 25+ years. Most recently I was the Director of US & International Government Affairs for the World Trade Center Chicago-Illinois, a not-for-profit committed to expanding international trade between Illinois businesses and world markets. I was recently appointed to the Economic Development Committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. My government experience will be beneficial in working with other elected leaders. I have served as a Member of the McHenry County Board since 2002 where I currently serve on the Finance Committee which has liaison responsibility to the Clerk’s office. My election experience has allowed me to interact with a number of Clerk’s offices which gives me unique perspective on how an effective Clerk’s office is run. Most recently I served as Field Director for Congressman Randy Hultgren’s 2012 reelection campaign and as Campaign Manager for Joe Walsh’s 2010 win. My technical background will help me guide the modernization process for the office while maintaining election integrity and security. I graduated from DeVry University with formal training in electronics, computer technology and business management.

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