This is the third in a series of articles outlining competitive primary races in McHenry County ahead of the June 28 primary. Check out nwherald.com over the next month and beyond for more election coverage. Read about the McHenry County Board District 2 candidates running in the Democratic primary here and the county clerk candidates, also in the Democratic primary, here.
The race to represent District 3 on the McHenry County Board features three Republican candidates – an incumbent, an auto mechanic, and a millennial attorney.
Bob Nowak, Bob Reining and Eric Hendricks are each running in District 3′s Republican primary.
Nowak, who currently represents District 1 as a County Board member, will now be running in the newly drawn District 3 which includes parts of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake and Lakewood, a narrow region that stretches from Ballard Road in the north to the Kane County border in the south.
The County Board’s districts were redrawn this past year as part of the decennial redistricting process, which this year also included transforming the county’s six four-member districts into nine two-member districts as part of an effort to reduce the County Board’s size.
In total, 36 candidates have filed to run for County Board, with four running in District 3. Of the three Republican candidates, only two will able to make it past June’s primary.
The other candidate, Democrat Carolyn Campbell, currently serves as a County Board member in District 2.
Taxes were a focus for all three candidates.
Nowak said his main concern – which is what got him into local politics in the first place – is keeping flat or reducing property tax rates. He said he was proud that during his tenure on the board spanning more than a decade, there have been no inflationary increases in the property tax levy, just new growth.
“We’ve saved taxpayers a ton of money,” Nowak said. “I’ve tried to help keep budgets tight and move forward.”
Nowak said the county ought to be run “like any household” and looking at how to work with what they have financially and not burden residents.
Reining also described taxes as “a big issue” and said he thinks a lot of businesses were leaving the county and the state, due to high taxes.
Reining has also raised “individual choice” on masking and vaccinations as an issue on his Facebook page and said he was a proud supporter of first responders.
Hendricks, too, says budget issues are going to be his main priorities, with the goal of finding ways to reduce taxes and to not increase county spending.
“Everyone is able to balance their own check book and live within their means,” Hendricks said. “Governments don’t always adhere to the same principle, they spend first and figure out where they will get it later.”
Hendricks noted that keeping taxes flat was effectively a tax cut when inflation was accounted for.
Nowak said another issue that is important to him is the possible expansion of Valley Hi Nursing Home in Woodstock, which is run by the county.
Nowak has been on the County Board since 2010, and said he’d been involved in the “political game” for most of his career. Nowak spent 22 years as the director of building, planning and zoning for Cary and before that was a homebuilder.
Nowak and his family lived in Cary from 1986 to 2009, when they moved to Algonquin.
“I really enjoy talking to new people,” Nowak said of his plans to campaign in the district. “That’s why I’m in politics.”
Nowak said his tenure in Cary helped him prepare for his time on the County Board, as the switch was something of a role reversal, which he enjoyed.
“I understand budgets and board meetings,” Nowak said. “I was once one of the staff being questioned. Now I question the staff.”
Reining, a Lake in the Hills resident and auto mechanic, said he was motivated to enter politics after the past two years and the impacts of the pandemic.
“It made me want to stand up and do something,” Reining said, who said he was hoping to bring strong conservative leadership to the community.
Reining described himself first and foremost as a “citizen” and that he’s been enjoying the meet-and-greets, such as as an event Thursday at the Chubby Bullfrog Bar and Grill in West Dundee, as a way to talk to people and learn about their concerns.
Hendricks, who grew up in Elgin and is the youngest of the three candidates at 31 years old, is an associate attorney at Franks, Gerkin, Ponitz & Greeley law firm in Marengo.
“I’ve always been interested in politics,” Hendricks said. “It seemed like a good year for me too, instead of complaining about politics, to actually get involved in it.”
Hendricks worked for an accountant for several years, before going to law school at Loyola University Chicago in 2016. Hendricks took the bar exam in 2019 and has been working as a law clerk and attorney for area firms since that time.
Hendricks described himself as neither wealthy nor politically connected, though one of the partners at Hendricks’ law firm, Democrat Jack Franks, was the chairman of the McHenry County board from 2016 until 2020, when he lost to Republican Mike Buehler.
Hendricks said his identity as both a millennial and a strong conservative made him something of an outlier in the race.
“It would be good to have a younger individual on the board, but still someone who is focused on traditional, fiscally conservative stances,” Hendricks said.
This article was updated Monday afternoon to correct the district Carolyn Campbell current represents. She represents District 2.