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Consultant seeks third candidate for Geneva mayoral race

GENEVA – Political consultant Jon Zahm – who does not live in Kane County, let alone in Geneva – is looking for a third candidate to run in the Geneva mayoral race.

Zahm has advised campaigns for 24 years, including Chris Lauzen’s successful bid for county chairman. Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns ran and lost against Lauzen in the recent Republican primary.

A resident of Henry County, Zahm said he did not think Burns should be re-elected, and he did not care for challenger Bob McQuillan, either.

Burns and McQuillan have filed nominating papers for the April 9 consolidated election.

Zahm said Burns should not be re-elected because – among other reasons – he used his mayoral email address in his recent campaign for County Board chairman.

Burns said it was inadvertent and no one pursued the email use with a complaint to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Zahm said with McQuillan’s watchdog status at the school board level, he would have been a natural for filing a complaint against Burns – but he did not.

“I would have considered McQuillan preferable to Burns, but I don’t think he is the strongest candidate,” Zahm said.

Burns did not have a comment about Zahm’s efforts.

In an email, McQuillan responded that he had no issues with a third candidate entering the race – just with Zahm, who has no ties to the community, but is “enticing a third candidate only for [his] own personal gain. ... Jon Zahm is not concerned about the welfare of any Geneva resident and will support only those that follow his personal agenda.”

Zahm said his interest in who is mayor of Geneva stems from his belief in good government. Zahm founded the Kane County Conservative Coalition in 2002.

“I don’t live in Kane County anymore, but I was president of the [Kane County] regional school board,” Zahm said. “I got married in Batavia and lived there. And my wife grew up in South Elgin.”

But County Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, said Zahm should have no standing in any election in Geneva. Donahue supported Burns and provided him with a bus during his county chairman campaign.

"[Zahm] is not a resident of Geneva, or even of Kane County, so I do not know why he would involve himself in this race ... or anyone running for office in Geneva,” Donahue said. “In terms of qualifications for candidates, he has no standing to render any judgment. Clearly, he has no stake in this thing and should stay out of it.”

Zahm said he already tried to recruit two other candidates to run against Burns and McQuillan. One is 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg, whom Zahm said turned him down.

Kilburg would not comment.

Zahm also said he asked Kane County sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Kevin Williams, a Republican who ran and lost against Sheriff Pat Perez, a Democrat, in 2006.

Williams said he was flattered, but was not interested in serving as mayor.

“I never thought about doing city politics,” Williams said. “I’m very committed to the sheriff’s office and community policing. If there was an overwhelming outcry of people wanting me to run as mayor – but this is Jon calling.”

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