Bonnie Thomson Carter: I won't run again
Veteran Lake County Board member Bonnie Thomson Carter won't seek re-election in 2016.
Carter, an Ingleside Republican, is stepping down after 20 years on the job. She simultaneously served on the Lake County Forest Preserve District Board, an agency she led as president from 2002 to 2010.
Carter's current term ends in December 2016. She said she'll focus on county board and forest board issues for the next year, but is seeking other public service opportunities.
"I love public service," said Carter, 60. "There's no greater satisfaction. It's what I thrive on."
Carter represents the county board's 5th District, which includes Fox Lake, Lakemoor, Volo and parts of Round Lake, Wauconda, Antioch and Lake Villa.
First elected in 1996, Carter was part of the pro-environment Republican bloc that sought to control development in the county in the 1990s and preserve open space.
She was a leader in that regard. As a forest board member and then its president, she oversaw the acquisition of thousands of acres and the construction of miles of trails on its properties.
"(That) has really defined Lake County in so many ways," said county board member Ann B. Maine, a Lincolnshire Republican who succeeded Carter as the forest board's president in 2012.
Carter also led the push for better water quality in the western part of the county, helping to get communities in that area off wells and on regional systems that provide cleaner water from Lake Michigan.
She also was involved in getting hundreds of Wauconda-area homeowners clean water after contaminated wells were discovered more than a decade ago.
"She was a huge advocate for clean water," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat who worked alongside Carter on the county and forest boards.
County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor described Carter as "prepared and passionate."
"She doesn't back down from a tough issue or a right," said Lawlor, a Vernon Hills Republican. "I'm going to miss her. She's a friend."
Carter heads the county board's public works and transportation committee. She also leads the forest board's planning and restoration committee and serves on the land preservation and acquisition committee.
She's worked with the Northwest Water Planning Alliance, the Route 120 Corridor Planning Council, the Illinois Nature Conservancy and other groups.
Carter said she's especially proud of the work done by the Preservation Foundation of the Lake County Forest Preserves, a nonprofit group that has raised nearly $10 million for environmental projects since it was created in 2007, while she was forest board president.
"That's not taxpayers' money," Carter said. "That's huge in my mind."