Local Election

Republicans win 11 of 12 McHenry County Board seats

Former Democratic board member Paula Yensen wins election

McHenry County’s voters again granted the Democratic Party a minority presence on the County Board, but a minority of one, according to unofficial vote totals.

Former County Board member Paula Yensen won election Tuesday evening in District 5, beating Republican newcomer Andrew Snarski, according to unofficial results. But she was the only Democratic County Board candidate of 12 who prevailed, not counting Democrat Jack Franks’ victory in the first-ever race for County Board chairman.

Yensen, a Lake in the Hills trustee, said she was excited to win. The Democratic Party had held a small minority for eight years until voters in 2014 returned the 24-member board to total Republican control. Yensen served from 2008 to 2014.

“It’s an honor to be serving the people of the county and the 5th District, and I will work hard to represent them in a way that we can lower their taxes,” Yensen said.

She said that she was “delighted” that Franks won the chairmanship, and that she looked forward to working with him.

But in the County Board’s other five districts, Republican candidates definitively won their election bids Wednesday morning. Among other things, the Democratic Party was hampered by having to find replacement candidates as several withdrew and one died.

District 1

In District 1, County Board Vice Chairwoman Yvonne Barnes and newcomer Tom Wilbeck won with 12,493 and 11,192 votes, compared with 8,413 and 8,055 for Democratic challengers Kerri Barber and Kathryn Potter.

District 2

Republican board member Jeff Thorsen and newcomer John Reinert won in District 2 with 11,400 and 10,599 votes, ahead of Democratic challengers Dominique Miller and Jim Roden, who had 8,646 and 7,678 votes.

District 3

While Republican Michael Walkup lost his bid to become County Board chairman to Franks, he sailed to re-election to his board seat in District 3, as did newly appointed Republican member Chris Christensen.

Walkup received 11,382 votes and Christensen 12,003 votes, compared with 8,332 for Diane Johnson and 8,568 for Kathleen Bergan Schmidt.

District 4

Republican newcomers Craig Wilcox and Kay Bates handily won their races in District 4, receiving 12,764 and 12,335 votes compared with 7,241 and 5,732 votes for Democratic challengers Robert Rosenberg and Arne Waltmire.

District 6

Voters in rural District 6 re-elected Republican incumbent Mary McCann and newcomer James Kearns, who is Grafton Township supervisor. They received 12,555 and 13,158 votes compared with Democratic challengers Andrew Georgi, who won 6,417 votes, and Cathy Johnson, who won 8,620 votes.

Board newcomers

Counting Christensen, seven of the County Board’s 24 members will be freshmen when the new board is sworn in next month. Two Republicans lost their re-election bids in the March primary, two decided against seeking re-election, one stepped down to take a job with a congressman, and two unsuccessfully ran for other offices.

Bergan Schmidt, Waltmire and Cathy Johnson were replacement candidates. Bergan Schmidt replaced a candidate who died, and Johnson replaced one who moved out of state. In Waltmire’s case, he replaced a replacement – a candidate dropped out, followed by the one appointed in his place.

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