Local Editorials

McHenry County Board, Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6

McHenry County Board member Paula Yensen addresses the board with a mental health study related to COVID-19 during a McHenry County Board special meeting at the McHenry County Administrative Building on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 in Woodstock.
McHenry County Board member Paula Yensen addresses the board with a mental health study related to COVID-19 during a McHenry County Board special meeting at the McHenry County Administrative Building on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 in Woodstock.

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There are two seats set to be filled in each of the six districts that serves the McHenry County Board.

District 4, with incumbents Kay Bates and Stephen Doherty, is uncontested, while there are races on the ballot for the other five districts.

District 1

Republican Tom Wilbeck has shown himself to be an informed and engaged County Board member and is a former member of the McHenry County College board. He believes in being prepared to debate issues and believes in consolidating governmental entities.

Democrat Theresa Meshes is a teacher and a newcomer to the County Board race who is an advocate for mental health funding and also supports the 10% pay cut for County Board members. She is against using the McHenry County Jail as an ICE facility but supports the use of body cameras by sheriff’s deputies.

Incumbent Republican Yvonne Barnes believes the ICE contract and use of body cameras should be up to the recommendation of the sheriff. She also believes board member pay should be hourly based upon time put in and that being a board member should be the equivalent of a full-time job.

The district includes parts of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake, Barrington Hills, Cary and Fox River Grove.

We endorse Wilbeck and Meshes.

District 2

The incumbents are John Reinert and Jeff Thorsen, both Republicans from Crystal Lake. Reinert, who owns a home construction business, is part of the finance and audit committee. Reinert has committed to cutting tax levies and serving constituents by having a collective and responsibile annual budget process. He believes the county should fund the issuance of body cameras to sheriff’s deputies.

Thorsen has blamed the pandemic response of state lawmakers for many of the issues local businesses are facing. He does not believe equipping sheriff’s deputies with body cameras is a pressing issue.

Newcomer Jessica Phillips, a Democrat, believes the board should cut mileage reimbursement and health insurance for County Board members and supports a 10% pay cut for board members. She supports sheriff’s deputies wearing body cameras and is against the county’s ICE contract.

The district includes parts of Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, Cary and Algonquin.

We endorse Reinert and Phillips.

District 3

Incumbent Republican Joe Gottemoller, a former board chairman who lost the last election but then was appointed to the board as a replacement, faces two challengers this election in Nunda Township Trustee Mike Shorten, a Republican, and Democrat Tanya Jindrich.

Jindrich has an MBA in finance and volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Shorten said he supports businesses but did not offer many definitive policy opinions in his candidate questionnaire responses.

Voters haven’t forgotten Gottemoller’s involvement as an attorney in the Oakwood Hills power plant project. He also has been active recently in tabling votes on measures placed on the board’s agenda by County Board Chairman Jack Franks, including a vote to reduce the salaries of board members.

We endorse Gottemoller and Jindrich.

District 5

The incumbents, Republican Mike Skala and Democrat Paula Yensen, have shown themselves to be informed and engaged board members.

Skala has been chairman of the finance and audit committee and taken a leading role in the budget-making process, while Yensen is the chairwoman of the senior services grant commission.

The challengers are Lynn M. Gray, a Democrat, and Damon Hill, a Republican. Neither participated in the endorsement process. The district is mainly in Woodstock.

We endorse Skala and Yensen.

District 6

Republican Jim Kearns is facing three challengers in this race, including Democrat Larry Spaeth, who has run for the seat and lost before.

Kearns is the Transportation Committee Chair and also chairman of the McHenry County Stormwater Commission.

Newcomer and Republican Tracie Von Bergen is one of the owners of Von Bergen’s Country Market in Hebron. She currently is the Hebron Township assessor and treasurer of the Woodstock Farmers Market.

Von Bergen supports cutting the pay of County Board members and reducing the size of the board.

Newcomer Nancy Glissman, a Democrat, grew up in St. Charles and has a degree in social work. She is a Sun City resident who believes climate change is a critical challenge of our times. Spaeth is a retired Dunham Township resident who supports a 10% pay cut for board members and the elimination of board member health benefits.

The district serves the western half of McHenry County, including Hebron, Alden, Chemung, Greenwood, Hartland, Dunham, Seneca, Marengo, Riley, Coral and part of Grafton townships.

We endorse Von Bergen and Kearns.

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