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Our choices in Tuesday's voting : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Our choices in Tuesday's voting

As in past elections, we've invited our readers to express their opinions on the races, the candidates and the issues in letters to the editor and in paid advertisements over the last several weeks. Now it's our turn on this page. Here are our endorsements for many of the races voters will be determining with their ballots:

County Sheriff: Dwight Baird

In the Republican Primary there are three candidates seeking their party's nomination to succeed retiring Sheriff Richard Randall: Jeff Christiansen and Dwight Baird, both of Oswego, and Steve Eaves of Plano.

All three are well qualified and have extensive law enforcement backgrounds. In this race we endorse Baird. In selecting Baird we note that he is the one candidate who has prior experience working in the sheriff's office. When he was hired as a patrol officer with the Oswego Police Department in 1994, Baird had worked the previous four years as a sheriff's deputy. In Oswego, he worked his way up through the ranks from patrol officer to sergeant to captain/commander before being appointed police chief in 2003.

Under Baird's leadership, the village police department has grown as the village's population surpassed the 30,000 mark. Despite the village's rapid growth during his tenure as chief, the village's crime rate has remained low and violent crimes are still rare. In addition, under Baird's direction, the department became one of the first municipal law enforcement agencies in Illinois to earn national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The accreditation means the department and its 47 officers have met and adhere to the highest of law enforcement standards and professionalism.

Village President Brian LeClercq and the village board thought enough of Baird's abilities as an administrator to name him as interim village administrator in 2011. His successful one-year stint in the job allowed him to further polish his administrative and leadership skills.

As a candidate, Baird has pledged to work to restore the image of the sheriff's office, which has taken a serious hit over the past few years due to the settlement of sexual harassment lawsuits and, just last month, the filing of a sexual misconduct charge against a corrections deputy. In addition, Baird's promised a re-evaluation of the sheriff's office patrols in unincorporated areas of the county like Boulder Hill to make sure deputies are being deployed to best serve the public. Having grown-up in Boulder Hill, Baird is also keenly aware of the law enforcement challenges facing the subdivision and its more than 8,200 residents.

Based on his solid performance as chief of the largest municipal police department in Kendall County, we believe Baird has the proven administrative and leadership ability to guide the sheriff's office into a new era of integrity and improved public service.

County Clerk: Debbie Gillette

In the GOP race for Kendall County Clerk we strongly endorse incumbent Debbie Gillette. We believe Gillette has served ably since succeeding Paul Anderson as clerk in 2008.

As clerk, Gillette has made sure the county's elections have continued to run smoothly and efficiently. Under Gillette's direction, the number of early voting locations has doubled from a single location at the county office building in Yorkville to a second location at the Oswego Village Hall. We remain hopeful that during her next term as clerk, Gillette will seek to further expand early voting to better serve the thousands of county residents who live within the municipal borders of Plainfield and Joliet. Gillette and her staff also deserve credit for offering get-out-the-vote programs at several county high schools this year.

Gillette has more than proven her administrative ability to manage the clerk's office and is deserving of another term and your vote.

Cullick, Gryder, Prochaska
and Gilmour for county board

District one

Republican voters in county board district one will have their choice of five candidates for three open seats. In this race we recommend two of the incumbent candidates: Judy Gilmour and Matt Prochaska, both of Yorkville.

Both Gilmour and Prochaska began their board tenures following the 2012 general election. Over the past two years they've both proven to be effective advocates for the county's taxpayers. Importantly, Gilmour and Prochaska have pledged not to accept county-funded health insurance if re-elected. In addition, Prochaska favors replacing the per diems paid to board members for their service with flat stipends. Gilmour is on Medicare and her own health insurance and does not charge the county and its taxpayers for mileage to attend county functions.

District two

In the race for two open seats from county board district two, we strongly endorse incumbents Scott Gryder and Lynn Cullick, both of Oswego. Both Gryder and Cullick were first elected to the board in 2012. Gryder served previously on the Oswego Public Library District Board, while Cullick served on the Oswego School District Board, including as board president. The two officials have provided the county board with a much-needed new perspective on the county's budget, have contributed positively to the board's debates and seek realistic solutions to the challenges before county government. Importantly, neither Gryder or Cullick accept the county's taxpayer provided health insurance. Cullick is in favor of a major overhaul of the board's compensation program, while Gryder has advocated the elimination of mileage reimbursements and health insurance for board members.

State Rep. 50th District: Wheeler

In the Republican primary for 50th District state representative, there are two good choices to replace long-time Rep. Kay Hatcher who is retiring. Beth Goncher of Aurora and Keith Wheeler of Oswego would bring different strengths to the office-Goncher as a 17 year legislative aide and Wheeler as a business owner. We believe Wheeler understands the challenges facing businesses and residents in Illinois these days as Illinois struggles to solve its pension funding crisis.

State Rep. 75th District: Anthony

Incumbent State Rep. John Anthony of Plainfield is endorsed. A fiscal and social conservative, Anthony is opposed to reducing the collective bargaining rights for public employee unions as advocated by many in the GOP. Anthony has shown leadership as he and his wife grew a non-profit from the ground up called the YARN Foundation that helps teenagers and young adults with their educational needs. A former sheriff's deputy, Anthony has knowledge that will help him on issues related to public safety.

State Rep. 97th District: Mancke

An Oswego resident and Oswego School District teacher is endorsed. A first-time candidate for General Assembly, Amanda Mancke is seeking to follow in the footsteps of State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, who has held the seat for the past two decades. Like Cross, Mancke is a rarity these days in the Republican Party politics. She is a fiscal conservative and social moderate who shows a willingness to consider all sides of each issue. We remember fair-minded Republicans like these and we wish there were many more. Voters should also be aware that Mancke-unlike one of her opponents-has not accepted any campaign contributions from billionaire venture capitalist and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. State campaign contribution records show Rauner and his wife have dished out millions of dollars to selected GOP candidates over the past several months.

Congress 11th District: Senger

Republican voters will be asked to select one of four candidates to challenge incumbent Congressman Bill Foster, D-Naperville, in the November general election. In our view this is an extremely weak field of candidates. All four candidates toe the familiar hard-right GOP line on social issues and even tap danced around the question "Do you believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution?" However, of the four, Darlene Senger, a current state representative from Naperville, gets the nod. We endorse Senger based on her experience as a state lawmaker and as a Naperville alderman. Senger also described herself as an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed Metra extension into Kendall County. For the record, Senger declined to answer the Darwin question but said one of the great things about this country is people can have an array of beliefs "without fear of persecution from the government." We agree with that thought; who wouldn't? But we also believe people deserve answers to simple, straightforward questions from those who seek to serve as their representatives in government.

Congress 14th District: Anderson

Democratic voters have a choice of two candidates seeking to oppose incumbent Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren of Winfield in the November general election. Of the two candidates, we prefer Dennis Anderson of Gurnee. Anderson acknowledges that while the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect he continues to support its implementation. Anderson notes correctly that far too long the insured have been paying for the care of the uninsured through higher premiums, while at the same time living with the possibility of losing their insurance at the whim of their insurance companies. Anderson also pledges to oppose efforts to make Medicare a voucher program. He believes in Darwin's Theory of Evolution, global warming and supports the right of same sex individuals to marry. He correctly points out that same sex marriage is no threat to heterosexual marriage or the family unit. Anderson also suggests, "If we want to strengthen the family, we should focus on poverty, unemployment and substance abuse."

Vote 'Yes' to save on electric bill

The Kendall County Board is giving the county's unincorporated residents one more chance to save some money on their monthly electric bills. In November 2012, voters rejected an electric aggregation referendum by a fairly significant margin even though voters in the county's municipalities had earlier approved similar referendums. Since that time the municipalities sought competitive bids and obtained lower electric power rates for their residents. The lower rates have translated into lower bills for those residents, while the unincorporated residents have continued to pay for their power at ComEd's higher rate.

We believe unincorporated voters should say "Yes" to electric aggregation. However, we would caution them that they will probably not see as large a savings on their bills as their neighbors in the county's municipalities have been enjoying over the past year and one-half. Why? Because ComEd has lowered its rates since the municipal aggregation programs have been in effect. ComEd is currently charging its customers for electric power at a rate of 5.523 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's significantly lower than the rate ComEd had been charging its customers prior to the arrival of aggregation programs. However, ComEd's 5.523 cent rate is still higher than aggregation rates now in effect in Oswego (4.75 cents per kilowatt hour), Yorkville (4.76 cents per kilowatt hour) or Montgomery (4.82 cents per kilowatt hour).

We believe any savings an aggregation program could realize for the county's unincorporated residents would be worthwhile. Also, voters should know that if the bids the county were to obtain come in higher than ComEd's current rate, the county board would be under no obligation to accept those bids. In addition, unincorporated residents would have the opportunity to opt out of a county aggregation program.

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