Endorsement: Pedersen, Carlson, Hart, Altenberg and Frazier for Lake County Board
District 1: Pedersen
Two viable candidates seek the Lake County Board District 1 seat. Republican incumbent Linda Pedersen of Antioch faces Democrat Chase A. Thomas of Lake Villa.
Pedersen brings 12 years of board experience to the table serving on multiple committees including building/planning, transportation and finance. She says the Forest Preserve District is on a good path protecting the environment and safeguarding the county's preserves.
Thomas, a trustee on the Lake County Regional Office of Education, is an educator and human services professional at ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy and Education in Algonquin. He is passionate about getting adequate mental health and substance abuse services for residents. He cares about the environment and says he's running to tackle inadequate infrastructure, high taxes and poor delivery of social services.
Since Pedersen has the momentum in place handling the county's COVID-19 issues, she should continue that work. Linda Pedersen is endorsed.
District 7: Carlson
COVID-19 has taken a terrible toll on residents and businesses. And incumbent District 7 board member Steve Carlson of Grandwood Park points out that this is just the beginning: Lake County officials need to be ready to make tough decisions.
While we are impressed by Democratic opponent Carissa Casbon's enthusiasm, as well as her grasp of county issues, we believe Carlson's experience -- coupled with a compassionate yet realistic approach -- makes him best suited to face the challenges ahead. Carlson, a Republican, has a strong record of accomplishments, including his efforts to launch 211 Lake County, a 24-hour information and referral hotline. Plus, he has shown a willingness to work across the aisle and demonstrates respect for differing ideas.
We have enthusiastically endorsed Carlson in the past. We do so again.
District 13: Hart
Sandy Hart made local history in 2018 when she became the first Democrat to be chosen as the Lake County Board chair. The Lake Bluff resident recently has taken flak with regard to issues related to fellow Democrat Terry Wilke, but her contributions include a real push for greater transparency, a focus on mental health and the start of a multiyear capital improvements plan. The county has also begun an analysis of its physical resources with an eye toward finding places to save.
Republican challenger Lauren Fleming brings varied experience as a small-business owner, former chief of staff at the Illinois Department on Aging and former staff member of the Illinois Comptroller's Office. But while she talks about the importance of "building bridges," Fleming's harsh, inflammatory depictions of her opponent and others on the board make her an unlikely crusader for consensus.
We endorse Hart.
District 16: Frazier
Lake County Board incumbent Terry Wilke of Round Lake has come under fire recently for actions related to his post as Avon Township supervisor. That he holds two elected positions -- and seeks reelection to both -- raises serious concerns for us.
Critics, including Republican opponent John Frazier, say Wilke purchased a piece of property and vehicles for the township without approval. Wilke insists he had "direction" from the township, but documents proving that were destroyed. Wilke also has been criticized for receiving mileage reimbursement of almost $1,000 from the county for a vehicle acquired for township business. County board members are automatically reimbursed for mileage, he points out, adding he paid the county back when he discovered that and notified staff he no longer wanted reimbursement.
But questions about the overlap of the two offices underscore why we believe it is a serious mistake, and a disservice to taxpayers, for officials to juggle -- and get paid for -- more than one elected post.
Frazier, a retired military veteran, pledges to be the voice of his constituents. To do that, he will need a stronger grasp of the issues and a deeper understanding of county government. But he makes a good case for a change in District 16, and he has our endorsement.
District 20: Altenberg
Both Lake County Board District 20 candidates agree that residents cannot handle another tax increase. COVID-19 has forced the board to explore budget-cutting measures.
Democratic incumbent Marah Altenberg and Republican challenger Soojae Lee, both of Buffalo Grove, face off on Nov. 3. Altenberg, a former journalist and 20-year county resident, was appointed in March. With little time to learn the ropes, she jumped in approving/distributing $121 million in CARES Act money to help residents, food pantries, school districts and first responders, and she worked on grants and loans for small businesses. She's environmentally conscious and ready to serve.
Lee has a law and business background and is a solid candidate. He promises to "bring transparency, integrity, and efficiency" if elected. He would explore options to automate services and supports a merger of the county recorder and clerk offices for cost reduction.
Since time is critical in handling the fallout of COVID-19, we feel it's best to keep Altenberg in place to continue what she's started. We endorse Marah Altenberg.