Longtime incumbent Sandra Wegman, who said she will seek a seventh term as Kane County Recorder of Deeds, is facing a primary challenge from a 21-year-old Aurora resident for the GOP nomination in the March 19, 2024 primary.
Adam Pauley, a Republican precinct committeeman, is making Wegman’s age and long tenure in office – 23 years – among his campaign issues, which includes abolishing the office and putting its responsibilities into the county clerk’s office.
“My running means no disrespect for her,” Pauley said. “We hold different views and I believe in term limits. And people who serve for a long time should have the decency to step aside. … We need to consolidate that office with the clerk’s office and we need those term limits. If people do not have the ability to retire themselves, it’s up to we the people. We need somebody who is new.”
Wegman, of Elgin, said she will turn 80 in November and does not think age should be a factor.
“People have told me I should run again and I’m going to go with what they are saying,” Wegman said. “Apparently, they like the work I’m doing. They feel confident with me being there. And as long as the voters elect me, I don’t see any reason why I should step aside.”
According to the Kane County Recorder’s Office website, www.kanecountyrecorder.net, the office receives original property instruments and records them in the county’s permanent archive of land titles and ownership records.
Merging recorder with county clerk
Wegman acknowledged that 88 of the state’s 102 counties have merged the recorder with the clerk’s office. With the exception of Cook County, those counties have smaller populations than Kane’s 540,000 and some are so small, they do not need a full time recorder.
“Nobody has shown – to my knowledge – that they’ve saved money by merging,” Wegman said.
Pauley said that an appointed recorder in the clerk’s office would be a staff position, not a political one.
“The office would operate more efficiently without a politician. If it is consolidated with the clerk’s office, they can cross-train individuals and have its services offered down in Aurora at the satellite office,” Pauley said. “It’s a win-win for here in Aurora. … Hired staff does way better. I trust staff members more than I would a politician any day.”
Wegman disagreed, saying an appointed staff person could still be dismissed for political reasons.
“Those who are appointed answer to the chairman,” Wegman said. “That is the way it is.”
Pauley said it would save the county $123,000 each year in salary and benefits the recorder earns if the work was given to the clerk’s office.
Including herself, Wegman said she has a staff of 11. And in 14 years, Wegman said she has not had a raise from her $89,000 salary. And even if a recorder would be a department head, a salary of over $100,000 would still exist.
‘A true Republican’
Pauley has accused Wegman of donating to the Kane County Democrats and to the campaign of her daughter, Penny Wegman, a Democrat who beat incumbent Republican Terry Hunt in 2020 for Kane County auditor.
“I think that is unfortunate,” Pauley said. “If someone is a true Republican, they would support their party’s nominee.”
Sandra Wegman said she never donated to the Kane County Democrats – but her husband, Larry, who is a Democrat – did.
The check, she said, just has her name on top.
“I didn’t sign the check,” Wegman said.
Wegman said she donated to Penny Wegman’s campaign because she is her daughter.
Pauley maintained his criticism of her for that.
“Now we have somebody in the auditor’s office with zero financial experience,” Pauley said of Penny Wegman. “We had someone great in there before,” referring to Hunt.
Penny Wegman challenged Pauley’s assessment that she is not qualified.
“The auditor’s office has no financial role, as its function is purely compliance-based. According to state law, the auditor’s office transfers accounting functions to the finance department once a county reaches a population of 275,000,” Penny Wegman said. “We insure that departments are following the county policies for purchases and other ministerial duties, such as being the holder of all contracts and doing internal audits.”
Penny Wegman is a member of the International Association of Government Officials, where she said she was appointed by the membership to create the educational programs for the treasurer and auditor members.
Pauley’s civic involvement, work experience
Pauley was elected to the Kane County Regional School Board in 2023 and was chosen to be president of the board.
Pauley said he tried to introduce more transparency to the board by recording the meetings and posting them on the website, and creating bylaws, but according to meeting minutes, the board majority rejected his ideas because the regional board’s duties are limited.
The regional board’s sole responsibility is to act on detachment/annexation petitions regarding boundary changes between school districts.
Pauley said he is a part-time student at Waubonsee Community College and works the night shift at Planet Fitness.
When he was 16, Pauley said, he worked at Luigi’s Pizza and Fun Center in Aurora where he became a manager and trained other employees. He cited his leadership abilities, such as organizing the Aurora Youth Council when he was 16 and serving as vice chair until he was 18.
Pauley, who is gay, said he also served as liaison between the Aurora mayor’s office and the LGBTQ+ community in January 2022 to create the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board. Pauley was elected chairman of that board.
“I was also able to write the initial drafts and secure the passage of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board in Aurora, the first of its kind in Illinois and one of less than a dozen nationwide,” Pauley said.
During his tenure, the city had two Pride Parades and raised its first Pride Flag.
The first day to circulate nominating petitions is Sept. 5 for the primary and the Nov. 5, 2024 general election.