Next Monday, five new members will join the McHenry County Board.
They were elected in November’s election.
The five are spread over five of the six County Board districts.
In McHenry County’s southeastern-most District 1, Republican Andrew Gasser topped incumbent Democrat Nick Chirikos. Gasser is an Air Force and Naval veteran who was elected Republican Precinct Committeeman in Fox River Grove two and a half years ago. Gasser was one of those who engineered the turnover of leadership in the McHenry County Republican Central Committee. He serves as Vice Chairman of the local Republican Party. First place winner in the election, Bob Nowak will also be sworn in for a four-year term.
In District 3, former Nunda Township Road Commissioner Don Kopsell bested former member Kathy Bergan Schmidt by about 750 votes. Democrat Schmidt was defeated in her attempt to win re-election during the reapportionment year of 2012. Although Kopsell was defeated in his re-election attempt for Highway Commissioner, he won the 17%-turnout GOP Primary Election. He edged out Crystal Lake Grade School Board member Nancy Gonsiorek by 30 votes. Joe Gottemoller, Kopsell’s running mate will also take his oath of office.
In District 4, which covers most of McHenry and the Richmond-Spring Grove area, incumbent Sandy Salgado decided not to run for re-election. She apparently didn’t tell too many folks. On the last day, Republican Chuck Wheeler, a relative newcomer to McHenry County filed for the vacancy. That left the GOP ballot with two candidates for two seats.
The Democrats put forward Arne Waltmire, who had previously run unsuccessfully for the McHenry County College Board. The Crystal Lake South High School teacher of auto mechanics and industrial technology was the beneficiary of about $20,000 of campaign contributions from teacher unions around and beyond McHenry County’s borders. Instead of targeting the new guy on the ballot, Waltmire went after long-time incumbent John Hammerand. Hammerand spent about $2,000 and whomped Waltmire. Wheeler came in second, over 1,650 votes higher than Waltmire. The former Glendale Heights Village Board members will become the first African-American on the County Board.
In the fifth district, chiropractor Michael Rein took out the longest-serving Democrat, Paula Yensen. Yensen, whose husband Michael Bissett is the Chairman of the McHenry County Democratic Central Committee, beat long-time incumbent John Jung four years ago. Jung ran two year’s later and beat the second Democrat in District 5, James Kennedy. This time Jung ran against Yensen again with running mate Rein and the two ended up beating Yensen. Rein ran about 780 votes ahead of the Democrat.
The fifth new member is from the most rural district in McHenry County. Almost-retired Realtor Larry Smith of Harvard won his second attempt at winning a Republican primary. He defeated long-time incumbent Ersel Schuster in the Primary Election. Yard signs with little flags were placed near intersections during the primary election and about ten days before the balloting this fall. No Democrat ran against him and his running mate Michele Aavang.