GENEVA – Corinne Pierog stood on the Kane County Courthouse steps in Geneva July 18 and declared her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for Kane County Board Chairman.
Speaking to a dozen supporters, Pierog, of Batavia, said if elected, she would be the first Democrat to be elected to that post in Kane County. Pierog is the second person to declare an intent to seek the Democratic nomination for county board chairman, as teamster Greg Elsbree declared last month.
Pierog said she was standing on the same spot where John F. Kennedy stood on Oct. 25, 1960 when he made a campaign stop in Kane County.
“I would like to give you a brief quote from that speech,” Pierog said. “‘This is not a county that has been known for its Democratic majorities. I think your presence here, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whatever your feeling may be on the United States and the state of Illinois, I appreciate you coming here. And I think you’ve come here because this is a day you recognize that this is an important election.’”
Fifty-nine years later, Pierog said, the leadership of Kane County remains the same, still led by the Republican Party.
“Now, in 2020, we have the opportunity to make a change and elect a Democrat as your next board chair,” Pierog said. “The office of the Kane County Board Chair is the face of the county. And whoever may be the next chair – whether it will be Chris Lauzen or myself – will be faced with greater responsibilities and greater burdens, because Kane County is facing a time of change.”
Pierog said it was time for Democrats and Republicans, elected officials, staff and residents to work together for the residents of the county to come together to address the county’s future.
“It is time to ensure that all of our citizens are represented in leading our county forward," Pierog said. "Our leadership must no longer be based on intimidation but rather facilitation, bringing our communities together for shared concerns and shared opportunities.”
If elected as the county board chair, she would not have a vote – except to break a tie – but Pierog said the influence of the chair “should not be made through the lens of political manipulation, but rather through knowledge and respect.”
“Is it in your judgment that this county can afford to continue as it does right now? Is this the style of government you want, the county board room filled with anger and name calling?” Pierog said. “I stand in front of you as a concerned citizen and I ask you, is this what you want? I believe we have to lead our county forward. I stand here as John F. Kennedy did 59 years ago … I ask you to join me, so together, we can march Kane County forward.”
Pierog was referring to various confrontations at Kane County meetings under Lauzen’s leadership. Lauzen, who is in his second term and has not stated whether he would seek a third term, was frequently at odds with other elected officials over various issues. These included not supporting a new building for the Kane County Coroner, hiring outside law firms and criticizing Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon.
Asked to be specific about name calling in the county boardroom, Pierog said she had heard some words she could not say in public regarding the Longmeadow Parkway project.
“I’ve also heard some intimidation about not showing up to certain things, aggressive with communication – actually calling people out – and being incredibly insulting to our elected (board members) to the point they don’t even want to talk to him any more,” Pierog said. “They’re afraid to talk to him.”
Pierog said her style of leadership is collaborative.
“I believe that people need to be listened to and respected,” Pierog said. “I would stop at the party line, because a problem needs to be solved, people need to put their minds to it and talk about it. People who are elected – whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, or you’re independent – you are there to serve that community you represent. You are not there to serve your party. You are there to serve your community.”
As the county board is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, Pierog said the board members want to see bipartisanship.
“The county board wants that to happen. They sincerely want that to happen,” Pierog said. “They have reached out to me and talked to me and they sincerely want that kind of leadership style. They want their voices to be heard.”
Pierog said Elsbree's platform as part of her platform as well.
“Working with an austere budget does nothing but cause duress among employees," Pierog said. "Making promises on contracts that were fairly negotiated between both union and the county and the backtracking on those is simply not good management.”
Pierog was referring to meetings where Lauzen sought to rescind the resolution which approved the contracts, but could not muster enough votes to do it.
Pierog acknowledged that winning the county’s top spot as the first-ever Democrat is an uphill effort.
“The district has changed and we’ve seen the district change right now,” Pierog said. “We’ve seen the voice of independents – whom I just randomly talk to on the street – and they’re looking for something different.”
Pierog is the first vice-chair of the Kane County Democrats, and the founding chair of the Kane County Democratic Women, the release stated.
A small business owner, Pierog previously served on the Illinois Business Enterprise Program Council, United Way and two terms on the St. Charles District 303 school board.
In 2016, Pierog lost a bid to unseat incumbent Jim Oberweis for the Illinois State Senate District 25. In 2012, she won the Democratic nomination for that seat, but lost to Oberweis in the general election that year.