Suburbs set for more top challenges

Suburbs set for more top challenges

Posted by Joseph Ryan on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 01:13
The Daily Herald covers about 32 suburban House and Senate seats up for election next year. With petitions now in to get on the ballot, we have dug behind the names to learn more about what voters can expect this primary and into the general election. What we have found is top Democrats and Republicans have recruited seemingly quality candidates to challenge several incumbents and make a run at a few open seats. That will mean a plethora of costly suburban contests in 2010. Animal Farm will run a series of peeks at suburban legislative races over the next several days. Here is the first batch: House Republican Seats 41st District The retirement of Bob Biggins has drawn a wide Republican field. It includes: Matt Burden, a director at the Shedd Aquarium and blogger from LaGrange Park; Chris Nybo, an Elmhurst city council member and member of the DuPage County zoning board; Rafael Rivadeneira, a commissioner on the DuPage County regional planning commission from Elmhurst; DuPage County Board Member Brien Sheahan of Elmhurst and Oak Brook resident Michael Manzo. The winner is set to face Democrat Brian Stephenson, an attorney from LaGrange Park who seems very involved in the community and children's theater. 42nd District Glen Ellyn resident Sandra Pihos, in office since 2003, will face off in the general election against Kathryn Vlahos, who has been an appointee to the DuPage County tax appeals board for nearly 20 years. One would think the Downers Grove resident knows a lot of people in county circles and would have an idea about how to raise cash. As far as her politics, Vlahos ran as a 2004 Democratic delegate for Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Pihos ran uncontested in 2008. 49th District Timothy Schmitz of Batavia won last year with 57 percent of the vote against an under funded Democrat opponent. Democrat newcomer Jennifer Barconi of South Elgin has filed to run unopposed in the primary. 51st District Ed Sullivan Jr. of Mundelein won his race last year with 59 percent of the vote. Now seeking a fifth term he faces a challenge from Hawthorn Woods Trustee Steve Riess, a Democrat who has been on that board for a decade. Riess owns Nu-Way Search, a firm that finds IT professionals for clients. 61st District Joann Osmond beat her Democratic opponent in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote. Now the long-time Republican leader in northern Lake County is set to face Scott Pollak of Antioch in the general election. He appears to be a local business owner in the heating and air conditioning industry. Osmond has been in office since 2002, when she took over for her husband who died. 64th District Michael Tryon of Crystal Lake has been in office since 2005. Robert Kaempfe, who scored 39 percent of the vote against Tryon last year, is making another go at it on the Democratic ticket. Kaempfe, a retired U.S. Post Office worker and Vietnam veteran with a Bronze Star, reported having $922 in his campaign fund this summer. His Web site says he considered last year's vote tally "not bad." 77th District Angelo "Skip" Saviano of Elmwood Park has held this seat since 1993. He ran uncontested in 2008, but his campaign fund is often brimming. Democrat Clint Blezien of Bensenville filed to run unopposed in the primary. Not much is known about him. 46th District Dennis Reboletti has barely held on to this seat. In each of his two general elections, the former Will County state's attorney has landed 51 percent of the vote. This time he is set to face Deborah O'Keefe Conroy of Elmhurst. Conroy is vice president of Elmhurst Unit School District 205 and a professional artist. 47th District Patricia "Patti" Bellock has held this seat for a decade and ran uncontested last year. The Hinsdale resident is set to face a Democrat and a Green Party challenger in the general election. The Democrat is James Speta of Downers Grove, an engineer who ran against her in 2002 and landed 29 percent of the vote. The Green Party candidate is Westmont resident Bob Mueller. 55th District Randy Ramey is set for a general election run against Gregory Brownfield of Bartlett, an attorney who moved to the region from California in 1999. Ramey won his last election with 53 percent of the vote against a Democrat and a Green Party candidate. Democrat incumbents 44th District Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates unseated incumbent Terry Parke in a 2006 squeaker. Then in 2008, his Republican opposition seemed to fall apart when the House GOP failed to put in the cash to mount an effective challenge. Crespo won with a stunning 68 percent of the vote. Now the Republicans appear to be ready to make a real challenge. Billie Roth, village president of Streamwood for 20 years, has filed on the Democratic side. The village makes up a sizeable portion of Crespo's district. This spring Roth beat a challenger for village president with about 60 percent of the vote. Roth also has previous experience in a higher level campaign, albeit a bad one. She lost to Mike Noland with 46 percent of the vote in a targeted state Senate race that all told cost more than $1 million. 59th District Carol Sente of Vernon Hills served on the local park district board for about four years when state Sen. Terry Link selected her to replace the retiring Kathy Ryg. She now faces a primary challenge from another person who wanted the appointment, Buffalo Grove Village President Elliot Harstein. On the Republican side, Green Oaks attorney Dan Sugrue -- who lost to Ryg last year with 36 percent of the vote -- is making another run and facing a challenge from Green Oaks businessman Mohan Manian. It remains unclear if either candidate is favored by the local GOP establishment, as some leaders were trying to recruit Lake County Commissioner Aaron Lawlor of Vernon Hills. Sugrue used to work for Al Salvi in Waukegan, but has since started his own practice. Manian founded American Residential Care and has been a U.S. citizen since 2000. 66th District Republicans have also drummed up an experienced candidate to take on Mark Walker, who took an open Republican seat in a heated races last year with 53 percent of the vote against a veteran Elk Grove Village trustee. Heading up the GOP charge is David Harris, President George Bush's point person on Iraq reconstruction and a former adjunct general of the Illinois National Guard. Harris was a state representative in the area between 1983 and 1992. While he has a lot of experience, his career undoubtedly provides a lot of targets. In fact, he has a longer voting record than Walker, even if it was more than 20 years ago. Lately, Harris has been looking for an 'in' on the local political scene, staying active in the Wheeling Township GOP. He backed Christine Prochno's opponent in the GOP primary for the 66th District last year and he lost a bid to land an appointment to the board of Metra to Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder. Walker has been ready for a challenge. He says he has knocked on just about every door in the district -- a regimen many new suburban Democrats are encouraged to stick too -- and he has also kept up the anti-Todd Stroger rhetoric, passing a measure this fall to make it easier for Cook County commissioners to repeal the sales tax hike.
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