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Kane County candidates spar over qualifications

BATAVIA – The two candidates for Kane County coroner sparred over what qualifications are needed for the job during Thursday’s candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County.

As a DuPage County sheriff’s sergeant with 20 years in law enforcement, Republican Rob Russell told the audience his resume “best fits the job description.”

“The office of coroner is one of a peace officer,” Russell said.

His opponent, Democrat Tao Martinez, disagrees.

“This is not a law enforcement position,” Martinez said.

As the founder of a company that provides a cleanup service after death, Martinez bills himself as a “skilled death scene specialist.”

Russell also questioned whether Martinez had enough education for the job.

“I brought all the certifications I have,” Martinez said in defending his credentials. “It is all here for review.”

In turn, Martinez painted Russell as a politician.

“My goals are to take care of families, not run for a political position,” Martinez said.

Also during the forum, Republican state Sen. Chris Lauzen and Sue Klinkhamer, Democrat and former St. Charles mayor, who are running for Kane County Board chairman, differed on freezing the county’s property tax levy.

Lauzen said a property tax freeze would be a “priority” if he was elected chairman.

“The idea that property taxes are going up while property values are going down makes no sense,” he said.

Klinkhamer said the county’s portion of the property tax bill accounts for only 4 percent of what county taxpayers pay annually.

She also voiced concerns that public safety could be jeopardized if there was a property tax freeze.

“You can’t freeze or reduce taxes without losing services,” Klinkhamer said.

The forum also featured candidates looking to replace current Kane County Circuit Clerk Deborah Seyller.

Seyller, who was elected in December 1996, is not running for re-election.

The race pits Tom Hartwell, an attorney and Republican who lives near Elgin, against Ed Nendick, an Aurora businessman and Democrat.

Seyller sued county officials in 2010 in a dispute where she accused officials of deliberately underfunding her office.

The lawsuit cost the county about $450,000 by the time it was settled in September 2011.

Hartwell said the lawsuit “was a total waste of taxpayers’ dollars.” Nendick said he believed the suit “cost the integrity of the clerk’s office.”

The Kane County circuit clerk is in charge of establishing, maintaining and keeping records of county courts.

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