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Four looking to lead the county board

Four candidates will run to replace outgoing Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.
Four candidates will run to replace outgoing Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.

For now, the four candidates campaigning to be Kane County’s chief executive want to wish everyone in the Tri-Cities and elsewhere a happy holiday season.

But when the Yuletide ends and the calendar flips to 2012, voters should not be surprised to run into the two Republicans and two Democrats – or the volunteers backing their candidacies – at any number of functions and locations across Kane County, as they square off in the race for Kane County Board chairman.

“This campaign is going to be retail politics at its finest,” said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, one of the Republican candidates for the job. “This race is going to be won by good, old-fashioned shoe leather and gripping-and-grinning.”

Monday, three candidates officially filed nominating petitions with the Kane County Clerk’s Office to place their names on the ballot for the March 20 primary election.

Burns will seek the Republican nomination. He will square off in that primary with State Sen. Chris Lauzen, of Aurora.

On the Democrat side, former Carpentersville Village President Bill Sarto filed his nominating papers Monday. He is expected to face former St. Charles Mayor Sue Klinkhamer.

Klinkhammer said she will wait until the end of the filing period.

The race on the Republican side already has been hotly contested since Burns and Lauzen announced their candidacies in August.

The campaigns have publicly traded shots over Burns’ handling of the Geneva city budget and other issues. Both sides acknowledge that the campaign has yet to even truly begin.

But all the candidates said voters should not expect the race in either party’s primary to become more negative.

All said they want the election to be about their particular qualifications. And all said they believed they were more qualified than the other candidates to run Kane County’s government.

Klinkhamer said she intends to run a campaign that doesn’t involve traditional modern political strategies. She said she intended to use social media, print media and “her extensive network” of contacts in local governments and civic organizations – a network built while she was mayor and a top aide to former Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster – to help get her message out.

“I’m very opposed to raising huge amounts of money to bombard people,”  Klinkhamer said. “I’m going to try to run a campaign and not be an obnoxious candidate.”

Sarto said he intendeds to run a well-organized, well-funded campaign to persuade voters that he is the best candidate for the job.

He said he didn’t want the race to slip into a back and forth based on personality or even on details of issues, which he said can change day-to-day.

“I have a formula for dealing with just about any issue: It’s called good management,” Sarto said.

He believes voters will respond to his record in Carpentersville from 2005-09, where he said he “cleaned up a real mess” in what he described as a dysfunctional village government.

On the Republican side, Lauzen said he believes the race should be about issues – namely, the county’s property tax levy, which he said should be frozen; spending, which he said should be limited; and improving management within the county government.

“I’m going to focus on practices,” Lauzen said. “I don’t want to talk about my opponent.”

He said he will defend himself, but he said he will not “throw the first punch” against his opponents for the rest of the campaign.

Burns said he believes the race for the chairman’s post – an executive job – should be based on executive experience.

Burns said his experience in city government and in the private sector, assembling budgets and administering staffs, differentiates him from Lauzen.

All candidates said debates have yet to be scheduled, but they were looking forward to such forums.

“I think those who have a vested interest in Kane County will decide that this race is the most important one on the ballot next spring,” Burns said. “Whoever wins this race is going to have the chance to set the tone for county government for years to come.”

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