McHenry County clerk candidate Janice Dalton files for bankruptcy same day she joined race

WOODSTOCK – The same day she filed to run for McHenry County clerk, Janice Dalton filed for bankruptcy – a month after her husband accused her of misappropriating more than $30,000 from his annuity fund, according to documents obtained by the Northwest Herald.

Dalton is vying for the Republican nomination for McHenry County clerk against fellow Republican and current McHenry County Recorder Joe Tirio. She said her personal struggles with money should not be an indictment of her ability to run a public office that serves taxpayers.

"It was an unfortunate result of these trying economic times,” Dalton said. “There are a lot of victims of this economy that are suffering and living paycheck to paycheck, and I’m not immune to that.

"It does not reflect on the job that I did for 16 years as a city clerk for the city of McHenry, and it will not affect the job I would do if I’m elected to the position of county clerk."

Dalton's Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy filing lists $10,000 in video gambling losses and $30,000 in money she withdrew in her husband's name from his annuity fund.

Her husband, Michael Dalton, listed those losses in a separate Chapter 7 bankruptcy he filed in October, reporting the $32,000 loss as "wife misappropriated annuity funds."

Janice Dalton would not comment on details about the withdrawal from her husband's annuity fund.

"That’s between my husband and I, and that’s personal,” she said.

Janice Dalton's opponents in the clerk race contend that the details of her bankruptcy raise concerns about her ability to run a county office responsible for holding elections and maintaining vital records.

"It's a job with a tremendous amount of responsibility, and an obligation to the public to make good decisions in the best interest of the public," Tirio said. "Some of what we see in the bankruptcy filling demonstrates some poor decision-making."

The contested post comes with a $109,465 annual salary and two large budgets: $442,550 for operations and $1.7 million to organize and run elections.

"That does not bode well for somebody that wants to be a county clerk," said Democrat Drew Georgi, a former Hebron trustee and Marine veteran also running for clerk.

Janice Dalton submitted her petitions to run for McHenry County clerk Nov. 27. On the same day, she filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy.

She owes $275,469 in liabilities that include balances on credit cards, personal loans, a mortgage and car loan. Janice Dalton listed her total property value as $150,350.

She listed "$10,000 in cash loss due to video gambling" suffered between 2016 and 2017, according to documents.

The battle for the clerk's office is primed to be one of McHenry County's most contested races.

Incumbent County Clerk Mary McClellan is not seeking re-election, and she instead is running for circuit court judge. Her exit leaves the clerk's office door open to a candidate with experience in other forms of local government.

Janice Dalton, who spent 16 years as the city of McHenry clerk, is vying for the Republican nomination against Tirio.

Tirio announced his intention to run in July, ending months of speculation about his potential candidacy. His announcement came a month after County Board members voted to put a binding referendum on the same March 20 ballot asking voters whether they want to eliminate the recorder's office and merge its responsibilities into the county clerk's office, as is done in most Illinois counties.

Across the aisle is Georgi, who said he hopes to improve government transparency and fortify the county's voting process, which has been the subject of much scrutiny. Candidates, elected officials and voters demanded answers after the March 2016 primary, when ballots were not tallied until almost 48 hours after the polls closed.

Janice Dalton said she hopes voters will be understanding when they visit the polls in the March primary.

“I hope people understand; as I said, it’s a private matter,” Dalton said. “It would have no effect on the quality of the job I would do if I was elected as county clerk.”