With a choice of whether to hold a party caucus or a primary election, the Algonquin Township Republican Central Committee has decided to hold an election.
I have told the story of the impetuous to the legislation in 1973 several times, but it’s such a good story, here goes again.
Algonquin Township Assessor Forrest B. Hare, a young man back from serving in Germany with an interest in politics, decided their Heimi Siegmeier, the incumbent Assessor could be beaten.
But, how to prove one was qualified to run for the office.
That was the question.
Hare decided to take the courses offered and passed the test for Certified Illinois Assessing Officer.
The incumbent, who preciously worked in Tober’s Men’s Store at the corner of Williams and Brink in Crystal Lake, took the same courses, but failed to pass enough to become a CIAO.
So Hare looked more qualified than the incumbent.
And Hare worked harder.
In 1969 Hare won the election.
He modernized the office, becoming the first Illinois Assessor to use a computer.
He followed the law, which disturbed a number of formerly underassessed property owners.
One, Barrington Hills farm owner Alexander MacArthur, entered a manure spreader in Crystal Lake’s 1972 Thanksgiving Parade with a message about what was put in came out–a play on the “garbage in, garbage out” concept that was quite graphic.
The party put up a young school teacher.
A caucus was held at which people could vote at Cary-Grove High School, the Algonquin Fire Department or Crystal Lake High School.
Ballots were brought to the CHCHS Field House to be counted.
About three AM, the judges came up with results which showed Hare lost by a handful of votes.
He asked whether the judges were sure that the count was correct and was told something like, “Of course not.”
The party central committee refused a recount.
At that time there was no prohibition against someone losing a caucus from running in the general election.
Hare wasn’t on the ballot, so he ran a write-in campaign.
“Homeowners for Hare” signs, hand-crafted by his sister, popped up all over Algonquin Township…especially in the new subdivisions like Crystal Lake’s Coventry.
County government, you see, had assessed newly-built homes at 60% of market value (while the state suggestion–not law–was 50%; this was before state law was enacted setting the level at one-third of market value over a three-year period),
Older homes were similarly grossly underassessed before Hare readjusted both types of houses in a reassessment.
The local radio station (WIVS-AM) owner Mal Bellairs had a two-hour talk show every morning.
A major topic was how the Algonquin Republican Party had done Hare wrong.
Hare’s write-in candidacy garnered over 60% of the vote.
At that point my State Senator and I–high school classmates–were on opposite sides of the Assessor’s race.
One day when I was in the State Senate Chambers, we decided that such a party division should be avoided in the future.
Subsequently, we passed legislation that gave parties the right to hold primary elections in place of caucuses.
Primary elections, of course, are governed by state election law allowing recounts when the margin was close.
Algonquin Township has held a primary election since 1977.