BLOOMINGTON — The 2018 election remains over a year away, but two candidates have already started competing bids for the McLean County Board.

Jim Soeldner, a District 2 Republican from Ellsworth and the board's vice chairman, will run again, he announced Sunday evening. He faces a challenge from David Siebert, a Saybrook Democrat.

They're the only County Board candidates to announce so far.

County Clerk Kathy Michael and Sheriff Jon Sandage, both Republicans, have announced re-election bids, and Democrat Nikita Richards is challenging Michael.

Soeldner said he became aware of Siebert's candidacy when both attended a Downs Village Board meeting at which Siebert introduced himself to the board.

“Normally I like to be ready by (the McLean) County Fair. That’s only a couple weeks away, and I have an opponent already, so I decided this was probably a good time,” Soeldner said Monday. "It’s going to be a long campaign.”

Siebert said he's gradually introducing himself to local officials in each of the towns Soeldner represents.

“To start now wouldn’t hurt me, and it would get name recognition for a Democrat running in a traditionally Republican area,” he said. “I’m not too concerned with what my opponent does.”

Soeldner, a two-term board member, said he hopes to "keep county real estate taxes low, to maintain and improve roads and bridges in the rural parts of McLean County and to work towards aiding those with mental health issues to see a brighter, healthy future."

Siebert, who retired as a project manager at the Clinton nuclear plant, said the state budget situation made him seek what would be his first elected office. He listed changing the board's meeting time, being more accessible to constituents and keeping spending low among his priorities.

The primary election is March 20, and the general election is Nov. 6.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Staff Writer

Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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