Ainsworth wins Oswego Township Highway Commissioner’s race

Boulder Hill resident Claude Ainsworth has won a three-way race for Oswego Township Highway Commissioner, capping what proved to be a competitive and controversial local race.

A civil engineer and newcomer to elected office, Ainsworth garnered about 40.5% of the vote, edging out runner-up Tom Cook, who captured 34% of the vote. Oswego Village Board Trustee Terry Olson came in third with 25% of the vote, according to final, unofficial ballot results provided by the Kendall County Clerk’s Office.

“I’m like stunned,” Ainsworth said over the phone on election night Tuesday, April 6. “I never even won class president. I’m not a politician, in all candor.”

Ainsworth said he and other Republican candidates vying for township positions were out campaigning for hours this past weekend, talking with voters and placing yard signs. GOP candidate Joe West also won the township supervisor seat Tuesday night, beating out incumbent supervisor Brian LeClercq.

“If anybody was going to win on this ticket we’d have to get the resources from all of us,” Ainsworth remarked. “We tried to do everything like a team instead of individuals.”

The contest had been one of the more significant races of a sluggish election cycle. Candidate and local businessman Tom Cook’s vow to appoint current highway commissioner Bob Rogerson as road district crew leader caused a dust up, with opponents calling the appointment promise brazen and a potential legal headache for the township.

Rogerson’s tenure at the road district had been marked by a failed referendum backed by township officials in March 2020 to make the highway commissioner an appointed rather than elected job.

Ainsworth said voters had voiced frustration to him about the township’s management during the campaign, adding that Cook’s appointment promises could have “played a part” in Tuesday night’s results.

Ainsworth previously ran for highway commissioner in 2017 amidst a six-way race where he garnered only 6% of the vote. A decades-long resident of Boulder Hill, Ainsworth has vowed to cut costs on road district contracts and beautify the neighborhood he calls home.

“I had a lot of people praying for me,” Ainsworth said of his victory. “It was a pretty tough race. I was kind of fighting an uphill battle.”

Lucas Robinson

Lucas Robinson covers politics, courts, schools and the pandemic in Kendall County and Yorkville for Shaw Media. His work has previously appeared in the Chicago Reader, the Buenos Aires Times, Open Secrets and USAToday. He grew up in Muncie, Indiana.