Election 2024: In McHenry County Board District 3, a rematch between Eric Hendricks, Bob Nowak

Eric Hendricks defeated then-incumbent Bob Nowak in 2022

Election 2024
The candidates for District 3 in the McHenry County Board Republican primary include Robert "Bob" Nowak (left) and incumbent Eric Hendricks.

The McHenry County Board District 3 Republican primary features a rematch between incumbent Eric Hendricks and the former board member he beat two years ago to win the seat, Robert “Bob” Nowak.

Hendricks works as a lawyer, specializing in corporate litigation, while Nowak has a background in government and business, working for the village of Cary for 23 years.

Nowak, of Algonquin, was an incumbent on the McHenry County Board in 2022 and lost in a three-way race to Hendricks, of Lake in the Hills, and current board member Carolyn Campbell, D-Crystal Lake. District 3 covers parts of Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Lakewood, Crystal Lake and a sliver of Huntley.

Both Nowak and Hendricks stressed the need to address the burden of taxation, with Hendricks saying that lowering taxes is his motivation for running. Nowak said it was a last-minute decision to run again for the County Board, and said “holding the line” on property taxes was a big reason he joined the race.

In a candidate forum in January hosted by McGOPAC, the McHenry County Republican political action committee, Hendricks said the top three responsibilities of the board are taxes, public safety and transportation.

Nowak answered similarly, saying protecting citizens, budgets and transportation are the primary duties of the board.

Both candidates support the Mental Health Board sales tax referendum which, if voters approve, will raise the sales countywide in exchange for a decrease in the property tax levy. Hendricks voted to place the measure on the ballot, and Nowak said the sales tax seems to be the “better choice.”

“I think it is a good idea,” Nowak said. “We’ll see how the people feel about it.”

Hendricks said the referendum would be an overall tax reduction and would shift some of the burden to non-residents who shop in the county while potentially providing more money for mental health services. He said he wouldn’t support it if it meant people would pay more taxes.

Hendricks said one thing the county can do is eliminate positions that go unfilled for 12 to 18 months. If the position needs to be filled, the county can try to justify why it should be back, he said. As for specific cuts, Hendricks said he thinks the county can provide the same services with minor cuts, consolidation and finding efficiencies.

Nowak said property taxes are a big thing, but that ”I don’t want to cut any services. That’s not my goal.”

Transportation was an issue that both candidates mentioned. Hendricks discussed services such as senior transportation in the county. He added the county should continue to spend money to keep roads in good shape and isn’t “opposed” to road widening where it makes sense.

“I think they’re good services,” Hendricks said about transportation services the county provides.

Nowak expressed support for widening Route 47, construction on which is due to begin this year. As for public transportation, “We’re out in the far boonies,” Nowak said, adding public transportation use in McHenry County “doesn’t hold a candle” to use in the city.

Several McHenry County municipalities, including Crystal Lake and Huntley, have signed on to oppose an effort to combine the CTA, Metra and Pace boards. Nowak said one board often can be more productive but expressed worries about McHenry County getting the short end of the stick.

Hendricks said he generally is open to consolidation, but wanted to do more research before supporting or opposing that proposal.

Nowak filed to be on the primary ballot about 2½ hours before Hendricks on the final day of candidate filing, and Hendricks filed a challenge against Nowak’s candidacy. Hendricks’ objection was over a typo in the word “Republican,” which Nowak spelled “Republian” on his nominating paperwork. Hendricks argued Nowak should be kicked off the ballot for that, but the McHenry County election board ruled that Nowak could stay on the ballot.

In January, the McHenry County Republican Party formally endorsed Hendricks for the County Board seat. “Eric has been steadfast in maintaining our core values. The primary challenge he now faces is either unenlightened or downright selfish in its motivation,” McHenry County Republican Party chair Jeff Thorsen wrote in an email to the Northwest Herald announcing the endorsement in January.

On the Democratic side, Rester Dogboe has filed to run as a write-in candidate.