BLOOMINGTON — McLean County residents have a plethora of choices for their County Board on Nov. 6.
Twenty-two candidates are running for the overwhelmingly Republican board — 15 of 20 members are Republican — in what Democrats think could be a wave election. It's also the first election local Libertarians are eligible for the fall ballot.
Following is a summary of the candidates, including responses to a Pantagraph questionnaire about their highest priorities, if elected.
In District 1, which covers parts of far northern McLean County, Republican Gerald Thompson and Libertarian Michael Suess are vying for a seat being vacated by Republican Don Cavallini.
"My highest priority is being a voice for rural life on the McLean County Board. As I’m out talking to District 1 residents, many people feel rural communities are underrepresented on the County Board. I’ll be an advocate for agriculture, small businesses and rural communities," said Thompson.
Suess, 27, is an actuarial supervisor at Country Financial and resident of rural Cooksville. He does not have a campaign website, but invites the public to reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"My goal is to influence county finances to either reduce current taxes or limit future tax needs," he said.
In District 2, which covers far east McLean County, Republican incumbent Jim Soeldner is opposed by Democrat David Siebert and Libertarian Paul Enerson.
"I want the state to send us revenue that is owned the county, as well as reimbursements for probation services and millions of dollars owed to the McLean County Nursing Home from Medicare, Medicaid and private pay customers. We need our legislators to push for this," said Soeldner.
"I want to open county government with much more accountability on board members with the use of performance indicators that will use numeric measures of county performance. Board members by name will own the various county performance indicators," said Siebert.
Enerson did not respond to The Pantagraph's questions.
In District 3, which covers far southwest McLean County, Republican incumbent Randall Martin is challenged by Libertarian Chris Howick.
Martin, 64, of Danvers, is an emergency preparedness coordinator at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center.
"My highest priority if elected is to continue to protect farmers’ rights and attempt to lower the taxes for farmland," said Martin.
Howick did not respond to The Pantagraph's questions. According to his campaign website, at facebook.com/howickMCLDistrict3, Howick, 52, is an over-the-road truck driver.
In District 4, which covers parts of northwest McLean County, Republican incumbent Mark Johnson faces Democrat Logan Smith and Libertarian Alexandra Engle.
Smith, 19, is a Heartland Community College student, Normal resident and first-time candidate. His campaign website is at facebook.com/SmithForCB4.
Smith said his top campaign goal is "bringing more citizens to the table when it comes to county business and making sure all citizens have the ability to participate in government."
Johnson and Engle did not respond to The Pantagraph's questions.
In District 5, which covers parts of northern McLean County including northeast Normal, incumbent Republican David Selzer faces Democrat Elizabeth Johnston.
His goals include "protecting citizens by keeping taxes low while still maintaining required services like the sheriff, courts, health department, etc."
"In last eight years we have successfully maintained a level amount of the county tax bill. Low taxes, increased employment, business development with continued transparency — that is my top priority for McLean County," said Selzer.
Johnston, 39, is a licensed clinical social worker who lives in Normal. Her campaign website is VoteElizabethJohnston.com.
"My top priority is making McLean County government accessible and accountable to voters, thereby increasing awareness and input on the decisions that impact our future. I will preserve the quality of our county services and support commercial development that results in sustainable growth, and not greater dependence on property taxes," she said.
In District 7, which covers parts of south and east Bloomington, Republican incumbent Ryan Scritchlow faces Democrat Sharon Chung.
"Our kids, our businesses and our use of tax dollars are my priorities. Having been born and raised in McLean County, I know how wonderful this community is and care deeply for it. I want to make sure that our kids have a better community to inherit down the road," said Scritchlow.
"I would like to see the County Board continue to follow through with the Mental Health Action Plan that was passed a few years ago. Quality community-based mental health is a critical issue in our county. Our community is stronger when we take care of each other," said Chung.
In District 8, which covers parts of southwest Bloomington, Republican Cheryl Froelich, Democrat Shayna Watchinski and Libertarian Steve Suess are vying for a seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Segobiano.
Froelich, 51, is an optician at McLean County Eye and a Bloomington resident. Her campaign website is facebook.com/Cheryl-Froelich-McLean-County-Board-179387742722498.
"If elected, my highest priority for the next four years will be to work in a professional, bipartisan manner seeking ways to streamline processes or expenditures to save tax dollars — working with officials, departments and programs to determine needs and if cost saving measures are feasible," she said.
"My highest priority for the next four years is to bring more transparency and accessibility to county government. I am committed to working with the other members of the board and our constituents to change monthly meetings to a time that is more accessible to students and working families," said Watchinski.
Suess, 30, is director of convergent radio broadcasting at Illinois State University, a Bloomington resident and chair of the McLean County Libertarian Party. His campaign website is suessforcountyboard.com.
"My main goal on County Board would be to increase transparency and community access to the board. Board meeting times absolutely need to be changed — 9 a.m. meetings during the work week are unacceptable. The board should also provide documents to the public without being prompted by a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request," said Suess.
In District 9, which covers parts of southwest Bloomington, Republican Lyndsay Bloomfield, Democrat David Parker and Libertarian Sol Roberts-Lieb are vying for a seat being vacated by Democrat Erik Rankin.
Parker, 33, is an aircraft mechanic at Compass Airlines, Bloomington resident and first-time candidate. His campaign website is davidparkerforillinois.com.
"I see my role as being a gatekeeper for McLean County against the turmoil in Springfield and the effects of the state budget crisis. I will fight to protect our county services and quality of life," said Parker.
Roberts-Lieb, 41, of Bloomington, is director of faculty development for the Carle Illinois College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His campaign website is facebook.com/SolServes.
"My priority is making government more accessible and cost-effective. First, the board needs to meet when the vast majority of people can attend. Second, we need to live-stream meetings for increased participation. Last, we need to reduce the duplication of offices and duties between the city, county and townships," said Roberts-Lieb.
Bloomfield did not respond to The Pantagraph's questions. Her campaign website is facebook.com/Lyndsay-Bloomfield-for-McLean-County-Board-171599200373703.
In District 10, which covers parts of southeast Bloomington, Republican incumbent Chuck Erickson is opposed by Libertarian Kevin Woodard.
His goals include "limited government, hold the line on taxes, efficient and effective government which protects the citizens of McLean County and promotes economic growth and job creation."
"I am a common sense fiscal conservative, an advocate for the taxpayer and a member who has never voted for a tax increase on the McLean County Board," said Erickson.
Woodard, 58, is a collector at Afni and Bloomington resident. His campaign website is kwedsi.wixsite.com/kevinin10.
"One of the main priorities for the County Board at this time must be planning the future of the McLean County Nursing Home. We need to do a 25-year master plan that includes the cost of a new facility given the existing facility is a 1970s era building," said Woodard.
District 6 Democrat Laurie Wollrab is unopposed.