McHenry County primed for several contested primary races

WOODSTOCK – The filing period for the March 20 primary has closed, and McHenry County is on tap for several contested races.

One election storyline puts Democrats in a position to make new inroads on a historically Republican County Board. Two seats in each district are up for grabs. A Democratic candidate is running for every district, except in District 4.

Carlos Acosta, D-Woodstock, is running for a District 5 spot. A successful election would make him the first Hispanic elected to the County Board. But that fact does not cloud his vision, he said.

“It only takes up maybe a third of my focus,” Acosta said. “Realistically, because I am Hispanic, I do pay attention to how the Latino community interacts with the County Board. The fact that I’m Hispanic is only part of it.” 

On the County Board, Acosta said he plans to focus on the inner workings of budget cuts in an effort to sustain services that often are cut to balance a budget.

In Districts 3, 4, 5 and 6, at a least one incumbent hopes to win re-election. In District 4, incumbent Republican Charles “Chuck” Wheeler will face off against Steve Bellmore, R-McHenry, and a candidate McHenry County locals will recognize: Pamela Althoff.

The McHenry native and Republican has served as a member of the Illinois Senate since 2003. As a senator, she backed legislation to expand agriculture, increase open space and promote economic growth.

The race for Althoff’s seat in Illinois Senate District 32 now includes two Republican McHenry County Board members, John Reinert and Craig Wilcox, and Democrat Mary Mahady. 

If elected, Althoff said she plans to focus her energy on ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Fox River waterway, a subject she championed as a senator.

Although only Republican incumbents are running for re-election as sheriff, treasurer and regional superintendent of schools, the race for the McHenry County clerk seat is shaping up to be a battle.

Incumbent Mary McClellan is not seeking re-election and instead is running for circuit court judge. Her exit leaves the clerk’s office door open to a list candidates with experience in other forms of local government.

McHenry County Recorder Joe Tirio, who ran to abolish the office all together, made official his intent to run for the McHenry County Clerk’s Office, into which the recorder position will be folded with voter approval. 

Tirio announced his intention to run in July, ending months of speculation. His announcement comes a month after the County Board voted to put a binding referendum on the same March 20 ballot asking voters whether they want to eliminate the recorder’s office and merge its responsibilities into the county clerk’s office, as is done in most Illinois counties.

Tirio is fighting for the Republican nomination against McHenry City Clerk Janice Dalton. 

Across the aisle is Democrat Drew Georgi Jr., a former Hebron trustee and Marine veteran who hopes to improve government transparency and fortify the county’s voting process, which has been the subject of much scrutiny. Candidates, elected officials and voters demanded answers after the March 2016 primary, when ballots were not tallied until almost 48 hours after the polls closed.

State Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, filed for re-election to his 63rd House District seat Monday.

Nancy Zettler, D-Algonquin, is running to represent much of McHenry and Kane counties as a state senator in the 33rd District. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, also is vying for the seat.

And in a race for the 14th Congressional District, the list includes eight candidates: George Weber, D-Lakewood; Randy Hultgren, R-Plano; Matthew Brolley, D-Montgomery; Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville; Victor Swanson, D-Batavia; John Hosta, D-Spring Grove; Jim Waltz, D-Gurnee; and Daniel Roldan-Johnson, D-Volo.

Here's a look at the candidates who filed for the March 20 primary:

County Board

District 1

Christopher Spoerl, R-Cary

Robert Nowak, R-Algonquin

Michael Vijuk, D-Cary

District 2

Josh Howell, R-Cary

Carolyn Schofield, R-Crystal Lake

Suzanne Ness, D-Crystal Lake

Timothy O'Neill, D-Crystal Lake

District 3

Nancy Gonsiorek, R-Crystal Lake

Joseph Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake

Lori Parrish, R-Crystal Lake

Kelly Wegener, D-Crystal Lake

District 4

Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry

Steve Bellmore, R-McHenry

Charles Wheeler, R-McHenry

District 5

Tina Hill, R-Woodstock

John Jung Jr., R-Woodstock

Michael Rein, R-Woodstock

Lesli Melendy, R-Huntley

Frank Wedig, D-Woodstock

Carlos Acosta, D-Woodstock

District 6

Michelle Aavang, R-Woodstock

Orville Brettman, R-Huntley

Ersel Schuster, R-Harvard

Larry Smith, R-Harvard

Buffy Brasile, D-Woodstock

County clerk

Janice Dalton, R-McHenry

Joe Tirio, R-Woodstock

Andrew Georgi Jr., D-Hebron


William Primm, R-Cary


Glenda Miller, R-Harvard

Regional superintendent of schools

Leslie Schermerhorn, R-Woodstock

33rd Senate District

Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles

Nancy Zettler, D-Algonquin

32nd Senate District

Craig Wilcox, R-McHenry

John Reinert, R-Crystal Lake

Mary Mahady, D-McHenry

14th Congressional District

George Weber, D-Lakewood

Randy Hultgren, R-Plano

Matthew Brolley, D-Montgomery

Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville

Victor Swanson, D-Batavia

John Hosta, D-Spring Grove

Jim Waltz, D-Gurnee

Daniel Roldan-Johnson, D-Volo

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect George Weber's correct town of residence.

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