McHenry County Board picks Christopher Spoerl to fill vacancy

WOODSTOCK – With few fireworks and little fanfare, the McHenry County Board appointed Christopher Spoerl to fill its vacant seat.

Board members voted at a special meeting Thursday, 20-2, to appoint the Republican from Cary to fill the remaining term of Andrew Gasser, who stepped down in May after his election as Algonquin Township highway commissioner.

Spoerl said at the end of the half-hour meeting he would do his best for the county and for the residents of District 1, who he now represents. He said he wants to focus on lowering property taxes and making government smaller and more efficient.

"To me, when the article came out in the Northwest Herald that we're losing population, that was a shocker," Spoerl said. "That was a call to arms, and I knew that something more had to be done."

Spoerl, a principal with Barrington-based Professional Business Management Inc., is a tax expert who earned a Master of Business Administration in finance and accounting, and a Master of Science in taxation. He also served four years as president of the Cary School District 26 Board and currently is a member of the Cary Police Pension Fund board.

Spoerl after his 1981 college graduation served four years in the Army in intelligence with an emphasis on Soviet analysis, and earned his paratrooper wings.

Board members Michael Walkup, R-Crystal Lake, and Tom Wilbeck, R-Barrington Hills, voted "no." Member Yvonne Barnes, R-Cary, did not vote, citing a financial conflict of interest.

Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, chose Spoerl from a pool of six applicants. He announced the pick Monday.

A last-minute endorsement of Spoerl by McHenry County Republican Party leadership blunted criticism and what otherwise could have been a closer vote. Spoerl was advanced by Franks over the two candidates the party recommended. But a mother-daughter political duo and a County Board member raised opposition to Spoerl's selection.

Former Republican board member Lou Anne Majewski, who lives in Barrington Hills in District 1, accused GOP board members during public comment of playing into the Democratic board chairman’s hands, and said she was so infuriated over it that she couldn’t read her notes. She was joined by her daughter, Coroner Anne Majewski, who expressed anger that District 1 board members were not involved in the selection process.

“Why can’t you vote what you know is right? Vote your conscience. Go down and be in the minority. There’s nothing wrong with that. Go home and be able to say you did the right thing,” Lou Anne Majewski said.

Board member Donna Kurtz, R-Crystal Lake, called the nomination a “gut punch” that lacked transparency, but she ended up voting for Spoerl’s appointment.

However, Spoerl’s fiscal bona fides won over the majority of the 24-member board, all but one of whom are Republicans.

Member Chris Christensen, R-Cary, who served on the District 26 school board after Spoerl, called him a mentor and a friend who is “eminently qualified” for the seat. He said Spoerl closed the district’s deep fiscal deficit and prevented a state takeover.

Board members Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake, and James Kearns, R-Huntley, pointed out that county GOP leadership met with Spoerl on Wednesday afternoon, and that Chairwoman Sandra Fay Salgado sent out an email that night officially endorsing his appointment.

“I can’t think of a better person to put forward, and I fully support him, and I would hope that everyone here would, too,” Gottemoller said.

Franks, the first popularly elected board chairman, implemented a different way to fill his first board vacancy – the law gives the chairman the power to advance nominees.

He put out a call for resumes from any interested Republican living in District 1, and subsequently had them fill out an extensive questionnaire, followed by an interview. After the interviews, he consulted with former Republican board chairmen Mike Tryon and Ken Koehler.

Spoerl will be sworn in at the start of the County Board’s monthly voting meeting next Tuesday. His term expires in 2018, and he will have to run to keep the seat.

District 1 covers eastern and southern Algonquin Township and southeastern Grafton Township, and includes all or parts of Cary, Fox River Grove, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Huntley, Trout Valley and Barrington Hills.