Early Voting has already started in Illinois we here at Heretic Rebel, a Thing to Flout Election Central are overdue in presenting our coveted Vote 2020 endorsements. To save time, you will find no surprises here. We are recommending top to bottom Democrats for every office where they are running and skipping voting on contests with no Democrats. The entire Republican Party is now so tainted by Donald Trump, xenophobia, racism, misanthropy, homophobia, religious zealotry, science denial, anti-democratic authoritarianism, Randian claptrap, raging incompetence, batshit crazy woowooism, and general smarminess that candidates running on that ticket have forfeited any legitimacy.
As is our custom, we will drill down the Illinois ballot from the Presidential race, state wide contests, U.S. House of Representative races, State Legislative races, McHenry County wide races, County Board Contests, and Judgeships.
We will start with referendum questions.
Eliminate the McHenry County Coroner as an Elective Office—There is a touch of political grandstanding about this referendum question backed by County Board President Jack Franks, but there is also sound governance policy. An elected coroner is a vestige of English law like the county sheriff. It served tolerably well as long as local, often rural, counties had light caseloads and before modern forensic pathology opened up new investigative techniques. Traditionally the office was often filled by a funeral home director and/or mortician whose business often profited from transporting and handling bodies. When the elected and highly incompetent Coroner resigned last year leaving behind a mess uncovered in investigations Jack Franks declined to propose someone to fill the vacancy until the next election. The duties of the Coroner devolved to the Sheriff and eventually he appointed a Sheriff’s police sergeant to manage the position. Franks proposed eliminating the elected position effective after the November election. Currently the Coroner is at best an office administers who hires pathologists on contract to conduct autopsies and death investigations. An appointed coroner would effectively be a medical examiner qualified to do his own autopsies and investigations at savings to the tax payer. The Republicans are intent on preserving a sinecure for their hack politicos and a modest horde of patronage positions. They are running Michael Rein, a chiropractor and former County Board member. The Libertarians also have a dog in the race while the Democrats declined to slate a candidate. To secure their bailiwick the Republicans are littering the County with Vote No signs that absurdly claim to “fight corruption.” We urge you to vote to professionalize the office.
Eliminate City Clerks—Down ballot voters in the City of McHenry and Algonquin will find referenda on eliminating the City Clerk as an elected official. We make no recommendations on these local issues.The only responcible and sane choice for President and Vice President.
For President and Vice President—It is no exaggeration to call this the most important election of our time and the most consequential since 1860 when Abraham Lincoln’s election set of a wave of Southern secession leading to the Civil War. The possibility of another civil war now looms as Donald Trump threatens not to recognize the results of the election and is stirring up his white nationalist and neo-fascist supporters to rebel. Although a hard core of Trumpistas remains, Joe Biden is consolidating a broad coalition to beat back an existential threat to democracy that ranges from moderate Republicans to his former harshest critics in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But there are as many reasons to vote for Biden as there are for backing him as not Trump. His policy proposals are broadly progressive even if they don’t punch every Democratic Socialist button. He is also a humane person of great decency. Senator Kamela Harris is a strong, tough, and articulate addition to the ticket. We make the strongest possible endorsement of Joe Biden and Kamela Harris.
Senator Dick Durbin, seen with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumern the is the second ranking Democrat upper chamber.
United States Senate—Dick Durbin has served Illinois and the nation with distinction and is now the Senate Democratic Whip—the second-ranking Democratic member in the body—and on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations, Agriculture, and Rules Committees. Hardworking, honest, approachable, Durbin easily earns our endorsement.
Congress—McHenry County is divided between two Congressional Districts each of which is served by highly esteemed members of the Freshman class swept into office by the 2018 Blue Wave election. Both are fending off Republican challengers bent on reclaiming seats they believe belong to them by virtue of the highly gerrymandered districts drawn for them. And both have received endorsements by all of the major newspapers serving their districts—the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald, and even the reliably conservative Northwest Herald.
Sean Casten, the leading science and climate nerd in Congress.
6th Congressional District—Sean Casten is a businessman and scientist who is one of the most respected voices for the environment in the House. Many expected him to lie low and carve out a niche as moderate to mollify his suburban constituents. But from the beginning he has backed progressive action and was early on effusive in his praise for the notorious Squad of female freshmen including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Casten has maintained close contact with his constituency even through the Coronavirus lock downs. Thumbs up to Sean Casten.Lauren Underwood, the youngest Black woman in Congress has made a mark as a star of the Freshman class.
14th Congressional District—Lauren Underwood a young Black nurse and public health official shocked complacent Republicans when she sept to victory in an overwhelmingly white district on a forthright platform of Health care reform. At 33, she is the youngest Black woman ever elected to Congress. She hit the ground running and was one of the few Freshmen to get legislation passed in the House and Senate and signed into law by the Resident—three bipartisan pieces of legislation including the Lower Insulin Costs Now Act to make lower-cost, generic insulin available more quickly for the families who rely on it. She made headlines for loudly protesting the “virtual concentration camps” for immigrant children set up near the border. She has impress at first dubious farmers with her strong advocacy for them as a member of the Agriculture Committee. She is widely admired by women voters, many of whom are now abandoning former identification as Republicans. Underwood gets our vote.
Illinois House of Representatives—Democrats are contesting five legislative seats that include parts of McHenry County—Marci Sueler in the 52nd District, Brian Sager in the 63rd, Leslie Armstrong McLeod in the 64h, Martha Paschke in the 64th, and Suzanne Ness in the 66th. It is no accident that most of these candidates are women, as are most down ballot Democrats. Women are pissed off and motivated.
Marci Sueler is a lawyer, legal publisher, a licensed mental health counselor, and is currently a Senior Manager of Strategy for a major legal services provider. Her motivation to run was “when she realized someone who is hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community, women's rights, and non-Christian religions was running unopposed and—unless she took action—was going to represent her.”
Brian Sager was a McHenry County College instructor, faculty union president, and an interim President of the College. He is the long time and highly respected Mayor of Woodstock. A former Republican, Sager recognized that his former party has gone rogue and is proudly running as a Democrat.Leslie Armstrong McLeod.
Leslie Armstrong McLeod spent fifteen years as a graphic designer for a Fortune 500 electronics manufacturer in Des Plaines and has spent the last fourteen years working for Community Consolidated School District 46 in Grayslake where she is the media relations specialist and webmaster as well as the President of the PSRP support staff union. She is also an accomplished photographer and active in arts groups in both Lake and McHenry County.
Martha Paschke was raised as the daughter of missionaries in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. She and her husband have raised their three children in the Fox Valley for the last 14 years. She has taught middle school social studies, provided women’s healthcare services as a labor doula, and currently works in the field of mental healthcare. She has been an active leader in her church for 18 years, Secretary of the Geneva Library Foundation, co-leader of the local Moms Demand Action group, a Girl Scout leader, and a volunteer with World Relief.After her successful race for County Board, Suzanne Ness is running for the General Assembly.
Suzanne Ness currently serves on the McHenry County Board, after winning her election in 2018. She has lived and served in the northwestern Illinois area for more than 30 years. She comes from a working-class family and understands the challenges and hardships that many families face. She has been a small business owner for the past 13 years and is very active in her community. Disclosure—Suzanne is the daughter of the Old Man’s long-time friend, fellow activist, and co-conspirator Lou Ness. The apple has not fallen far from the tree.
State Senate—Unfortunately the Democrats have no candidates in local State Senate races, Give these races a pass.
County Board Chair Jack Franks is proud of his reputation as a Tax Fighter.
McHenry County Board /Chair—Jack Franks is a lawyer/politician with a knack for self-promotion and despite years in the public spotlight has one of the thinnest skins in government and never forgets a slight no matter how minor. But he is also an effective public servant and one of the most popular figures in McHenry County politics. He defied the odds and became the first Democrat elected to the State House in decades. Thanks to outstanding constituent service and deep community connections he was re-elected time and again by ever growing margins. In the House he gained a reputation as a reformer and a budget hawk. He came to state-wide attention for his opposition to former corrupt Governor Rod Blagojevich. He became a staple on Chicago TV stations during those tumultuous years. One of the most conservative members of the House he found his aspirations for state-wide office stymied. However he defied expectations when his vote pushed marriage equality over the top in Illinois. Turning his attention to his home county, he encouraged the County Board to slash budgets, advocated for reducing the size of the Board, and for a directly elected County Board chair instead of a Board member elected by other members. He became the first elected County Board Chair at a time when only two Democrats served on the Board. He aggressively pushed budget reductions of 10% annually and a lowered tax levy. He stole the Republican’s alleged fiscal conservatism and branded himself as a tax fighter. He has sometime hectored and harassed other government bodies to slash their spending 10%, a ham-handed approach that ignored the reals costs and needs of school districts. But Franks has been consistent in delivering on his promises. He was recently named in investigations of sexual harassment and misconduct as a State Representative, allegations he staunchly denies. Despite this possible Achilles heel Republicans have a weak candidate with no government experience running against him, virtually conceding the race. We are for Franks warts and all.
A veteran employee of the Circuit Court Clerk Renee Overlee is making a bid to lead the office.
McHenry County Circuit Court Clerk—Renee Overlee has worked for the Circuit Court Clerks office for 26 years and was an active leader in trying to unionize the office. The elected position has been under one party control and uncontested before and knows it is time to change that. She believes that employees are the greatest and most important asset for the office but high turnover due to low pay and poor treatment undermine performance. Overlee is preferred over the politically well-connected incumbent.
Other McHenry County Races—Democrats have no candidates in the races for States Attorney, Auditor, and Coroner. The Coroner position will likely be eliminated by ballot referendum. The Libertarians have candidates in the Auditor and Coroner races but that anti-government party should not inspire confidence despite the fact that an old friend and former fellow Unitarian Universalist Jim Young is running for Auditor. Sorry Jim, we recommend skipping these races.
McHenry County Board Races—Democrats are running in five out of six County Board districts and have two candidates in two districts. It is important to vote for Democrats and only for Democrats where they are running. The party has a chance to pick up five new seats to join incumbents, dramatically altering the balance of power on the board.
District 1—Theresa Meshes of Fox River Grove has experience teaching, working for a small business, school and community volunteering, raising her two young sons and a daughter with her husband. Her special concerns are access to health care for residents and environmental stewardship.
District 2—Jessica Philips has been endorsed by Personal Pac and the McHenry County Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW.) She has a Paralegal Degree, Masters in Public Administration, a Masters of Business Administration, and 16 years of customer service experience. She works at Follet and is on the Lake Advisory Committee of Crystal Lake.Tanya Jindrich is running in County Board District 3 where she would represent the Old Man.
District 3—Tanya Jindrich is a Crystal Lake Central and MCC graduate, minority small business owner, and mother of four with an MBA in finance. She volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in court the system, is a member of Mothers Demand Action (MDA), Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL), Big Brothers Big Sisters, Early Childhood Learning, and her children’s’ elementary school PTO.
District 4—Democrats have no candidates in this district.Paula Yensen is the Dean of McHenry County Board Democrats.
District 5—Paula Yensen is the Dean of McHenry County Board Democrats having completed her three, non-consecutive term. She has a Ph.D. in Public Administration and previously served as a Lake in the Hills village trustee. She was the Executive Director of the United Way of Central Kane County until her retirement and has also taught classes in fund raising, grant writing, board governance, and leadership at Harper College. She has traveled to Uganda, Peru, and Guatemala to help build infrastructure for schools and small villages, been a national volunteer advisor for Girl Scouts, and delivered Thanksgiving meals to shut-ins and the poor. Yensen is also a longtime friend of this blog’s proprietor and an active member of Tree of Life UU Congregation in McHenry.
Lynn Grey is also running for one of the two open District 5 seats. She was born and raised in McHenry County. She is a wife and mother of two, and has spent her career as an Illinois title insurance professional. She lives in her hometown of Woodstock. Her first run for office was for the Recorder of Deeds. Grey has not run a vigorous or visible campaign—she doesn’t even have a rudimentary web site and has raised little money. District voters might do well to cast a bullet vote for Yensen not opting to support any other candidate.
District 6—Another race with two candidates.
Nancy Glissman earned her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1987. She has extensive experience serving adult clients with Special Needs, and has also worked in customer service. She defines herself as a fiscal conservative but understands the great importance of protecting public health and community safety and environmentalism she is a member of the Environmental Defenders and has earned the endorsement of Lauren Underwood’s Farm Team PAC for candidates with concern for rural issues. She currently lives with her husband in Sun City in Huntly.Retired Letter Carrier Larry Spaeth will bring a working class perspective to the County Board.
Larry Spaeth of Huntley is a retired letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. As a member of Lions Clubs International he has held all offices in his local club (Schaumburg-Hoffman) and stepped up to serve on the District Cabinet in 1991, a position he still holds, District Lions Disaster Alert Chair, and Constitution and By-Laws Chair. Larry also is State Fund Raising Chair for the Lions of Illinois Foundation. He is an active Catholic who worships across the border at St. Benedict’s in Fontana, Wisconsin. His main issues are property tax relief, protection of water resources, reliable and affordable broadband internet service for all, and the support of at risk youth. Spaeth is proud of his range of endorsements from labor—Chicago Laborers Council PAC, Operating Engineers Union Local 150, and the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 825—McHenry County NOW Chapter, Keep Abortion Safe and Legal (KASL) PAC and Underwood’s Farm Team PAC.
It is worth noting that the traditionally conservative Northwest Herald has endorsed Democratic Board candidates Theresa Meshes, Jessica Phillips, Tanya Jindrich, and Paula Yensen.
Judicial Candidates—Some of the most exciting and hotly contested local races are for judgeships where three remarkable women are trying to batter down the closed doors of the male dominated crony club on the Bench.
Beth Vonau is a stellar candidate for judge.
22nd Circuit Court District At Large—Elizabeth “Beth” Vonau who went to Law School to help victims of domestic violence. She was on the Board of Directors to bring CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for abused and neglected children to McHenry County and on the Board of Turning Point, the domestic violence agency and shelter. Since 2002 she has been a member of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Committee has provided domestic violence training to local law enforcement when she was an Assistant State's Attorney, and while in private practice she helped to plan and organize the first Teen Dating Violence Symposium in McHenry County. She recently she helped organize the Human Trafficking in McHenry County seminar for first responders, educators, and medical personnel. Vonau is also an active member of the McHenry County Substance Abuse Coalition and McHenry County Bar Association and volunteers with Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) providing peer to peer support for a variety of needs to her professional colleagues. As a well-respected member of the local bar, she is on the list of court approved mediators for family court and regularly volunteers to act as a mediator for the McHenry County Family Law Mediation Program. She is also on the list of approved Guardian ad litem (GAL) for family law cases and has accepted pro-bono appointments as a GAL when requested to conduct an investigation and be a witness for the court in contested cases where a GAL is needed but cannot be afforded. Beth continues to represent individuals who are seeking an order of protection upon request from Turning Point. She has also accepted family law cases from Prairie State Legal Aid. Conversant in Spanish, she is also able to provide access to justice for individuals who may otherwise not be fully heard. In July 2019, Beth was asked to join the 22nd Judicial Circuit’s Family Mediation Advisory Council and the McHenry County Bar Association Board of Governors. For the last 3 years she has been a volunteer Coach for Girls on the Run. This summer she was an active supporter of Black Lives Matter marches and rallies also retains strong relationships with first responders and law enforcement. Vonau was the recipient of the 2020 Women of Distinction Award, the 2017 Peace and Justice Award from Turning Point, and in 2013 one of Shaw Media’s Best Under 40. This broad and unique experience has made her an exception judicial candidate.
Subcircuit 3 in the 22nd Judicial Circuit—Jeanie Ridings is the candidate for this seat which covers the communities of Fox River Grove, Cary, Oakwood Hills, and parts of Crystal Lake, Algonquin, McHenry, and Barrington Hills. She has been an attorney since 2005 and is licensed to practice in all Illinois State courts, and in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Jeannie completed law school at the top-ranked Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, where she received the Quilici Merit Scholarship and participated in moot court competitions. She also earned her M.A. in Philosophy and Public Policy and Ph.D. in the Human Sciences and her from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. While attending Northwestern Law school, she was an intern for the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and Chicago law firms practicing in civil litigation, worked for the National Conference of Commissioners for Uniform Laws, and helped write statutes for State of Illinois agencies. Since 2007, Ridings has joined KRV Legal, Inc. where she is now a partner alongside Beth Vonau. Since 2016 she has performed work on behalf of clients of Turning Point, receiving their Peace and Justice Award for her representation of victims of domestic violence. She is one of the few attorneys in McHenry County who advocates for individuals whose civil rights have been violated, or who have been victimized by in positions of power and authority and she also performs significant pro bono work each year for those who otherwise would be unable to afford quality legal representation when they need it most.
Subcircuit 4 in the 22nd Judicial Circuit—Kimberly Crum Klein of Lake in the Hills is running for the bench for the other half of McHenry County. She went to law school following a career in the mortgage industry and over a decade as a stay-at-home mom raising her three children. After completing her Juris Doctor degree at Loyola University Chicago School of Law in Chicago she went on to become an experienced attorney who has worked in the courtroom as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a civil litigator. As a prosecutor in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, Kimberley prosecuted felony, traffic, and misdemeanor cases. She protected victims by prosecuting Domestic Battery cases in the Domestic Violence courtroom and she served as the supervisor in the DUI courtroom. As an attorney in private practice and the owner of her own law firm, she has represented criminal defendants and family law clients in a myriad of civil and criminal matters. She has tried hundreds of cases at jury and bench trial as a prosecutor, as a criminal defense attorney, and as a family law attorney. Kimberley has served as a Guardian ad Litem in many cases around Illinois and is trained as a mediator. In addition, she worked under contract for the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office to prosecute child support cases.
Judicial Retention ballot—Several sitting judges, most of whom came to the bench by appointment following a retirement—an insider tradition that insures that they can run on a retention ballot instead of first facing voters in an election. Judges on the retention ballot have to earn the approval of at least 63% of the total vote to retain their seats. This is far easier than it looks because most voters know very little about judges and mark their names reflexively. I am like most voters with little knowledge of the judges, but instead of endorsing a pig in a poke, quantity, I usually pass on these races even though I am reminded that a pass is the equivalent of a no vote.