Details of the Selection of the McHenry County Board Chairman

As you learned yesterday, McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler handily defeated two challengers.

In a 16-6-2 vote Koehler beat Barb Wheeler, the head of the county board’s Planning and Development Committee, and Marc Munaretto, chairman of the board’s Finance Committee. Here’s the roll call.

For the second spot on the board, Crystal Laker Jim Heisler won over McHenry’s Sandra Salgado in a 15-9 vote.

After his victory, Heisler, who sits two seats from Salgado walked over and hugged her. I was chastised for not getting a picture.

By the time that Koehler followed suit with Wheeler, however, I was ready.

It appears that Wheeler upgraded her ambition from vice chairman to chairman, joining forces with Salgado. Both voted for the other.

Something of a woman’s block was evident with Sue Draffkorn, Virginia Peschke, Salgado, Schmidt and Wheeler voting for the female candidates for the top two spots.

While Wheeler received six votes (the sole male being Huntley’s Dan Ryan), Salgado got 9. She picked up newly-elected Democratic women Kathy Bergan Schmidt and Paul Yensen, plus Cary’s Yvonne Barnes.

Nominating Koehler for chairman was Cary’s Anna Miller.

But that didn’t happen until after chairman candidate Munaretto questioned the contents of a memo prepared by the State’s Attorney’s Office based on a conclusion that the method used last time around had been “improper.”

Newly elected to her third non-consecutive term, Ersel Schuster moved to accept the recommendations of the State’s Attorney. I heard one “No” in the voice vote.

Miller read a prepared statement of support for Koehler.

Then, Draffkorn nominated Barb Wheeler and Randy Donley placed Munaretto’s name in nomination, saying, “I can’t think of anyone better to lead us through these troubled times.” He referred to Munaretto as “an economic wizard, to say the least.”

Democrat Jim Kennedy asked each candidate to explain why he or she was running for the top job.

Wheeler was the first to comply with Kennedy’s request. She explained that this was the first time in 20 years (that) there was a challenge for county board chairman (in which the results were not known.)

“We’re probably lambs (being led) to the slaughter,” she explained, but thought the process would lead to a “stronger board.”

She said that her quest for supporters might have led “some of your spouses (to) think I’m stalking you.”

She enjoyed talking at length with the board members during the last few days.

Munaretto’s comments came next.

“I’ve never run against an incumbent. I sense there is a desire for change. It pains me greatly that the county board would accept the control that has been exercised by a few (without question).

“The worst of economic times have not hit McHenry County,” the Finance Committee Chairman continued. Munaretto explained how under his leadership the county’s bond rating had risen from AA3 to AA1–”one notch away from Triple A.”

“I have been the proponent of open, constructive debate. 98% of the time I encourage open debate.”

Then, Koehler took the mike.

“I didn’t come here to talk about myself and I don’t intend to do that,” he started out. He explained how the board operates by committee.

“I’m proud to bring that all together.

“We’ve had our differences. We’ve walked some pretty tough times these past four years. I hope I can be your county board chairman for the next two years,” he concluded.

Peschke, who previously ran against Koehler, spoke on Wheeler’s behalf.

“I am impressed with her leadership. She took over from a very strong leader, Ann Gilman” and succeeded.

Peschke pointed to her introducing the board to conservation design and getting it passed.

“I have been truly impressed with her leadership.”
Having heard the reply to his request, Kennedy applauded the three members.

“I think competition is good. I think this is a very healthy thing for our county board.”

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The photo on top is of McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler hugging Barb Wheeler, the woman who received 6 votes against him. In the background to the left is newly-elected member Bob Bless. Top right is Randy Donley. In the foreground is newly-elected Lake in the Hills Democrat Paula Yensen. Below that photo are two shots of the new county board. All photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.

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