Candidates switch seats in election bids

By on September 17, 2011

Redistricting creates 6 degrees of separation between area officials
by Sandy Kaczmarski
KANE COUNTY—After serving nearly 20 years in the Illinois State Senate, Chris Lauzen announced he’s running for Kane County Board Chairman. The current board chairman, Karen McConnaughay, announced she’s running for the newly created Illinois Senate District 33.

Blackberry Township Supervisor Dave Richmond announced he’s running for Lauzen’s District 25 senate seat. Kevin Bacon, the object of the six degrees of separation concept, isn’t running, but Geneva’s mayor Kevin Burns is – against Lauzen for Board Chairman.

And Jim Oberweis, who’s won a primary but never an office, is throwing his proverbial hat in the ring for a bid at Lauzen’s seat.

What voters are left with is a sort of six degrees of separation—the assumption that anyone in the world can be linked to any other person (or Kevin Bacon) in six steps. In this case, it’s to elected officials and familiar names vying for another elected office in Kane County.

Senator Lauzen said he wants to be the next Board Chairman to be able to serve 550,000 people in Kane County compared to the 210,000 in the Senate District. Running for a local office may seem like a step down after serving at the state level—national political parties do not provide financial support at the local level. However, in addition to a larger constituency, there’s also a larger salary. Illinois state senators receive about $58,000 a year, while McConnaughay’s annual salary is nearly $102,000.

Attorney Dave Richmond said he plans to knock on every door in the district the next few months to get his message across to voters. Richmond said his experience as an elected official and his business background, including having worked for Congressman Dennis Hastert, makes him the best person to bring township values down to Springfield. Like the Senate seat he’s running for, the township supervisor is a part-time position, paying $20,000 a year.

Burns said his experience as Geneva mayor the last 11 years gives him an insight into partnering with the communities in the county. He points to having a balanced budget every year, stabilizing the equalized assessed valuation of properties and lowering the city’s tax rate. Burns is a professional development officer, and while he receives $22,000 a year as mayor, he does not qualify for a pension or health insurance.

Oberweis said he will work for ideas that he believes make sense to turn the economy around, and that it will take some significant changes in Springfield to get unemployment numbers down and attract and retain new business to Illinois. Oberweis owns Oberweis Dairy and has run for governor, U.S. senator and U.S. representative, but has yet to be elected.