Huntley resident Chris Yaeger has been a volunteer for Republican candidates for more than a decade. He decided to get involved after feeling like the state was headed in the wrong direction.
Going into the 2022 midterms in November, issues pertaining to the state’s new SAFE-T Act, which will eliminate cash bail and bring a litany of new requirements to McHenry County, along with what’s being taught in school, particularly surrounding sex education and gender, are what he said he cares about most.
“School should be about math, science and history,” he said. “Not all the other garbage they want to throw in there.”
He was one of many who voiced similar concerns at a Republican candidate meet-and-greet hosted by Nunda Township Republicans on Wednesday evening at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake.
About 100 people, both candidates and constituents, piled into the venue to meet with Republicans on the ballot and listen to brief speeches.
“This is one of the most important elections of our lifetime, especially in the state of Illinois,” McHenry County Board member Jeff Thorsen, who is running for reelection in the newly redrawn District 2, said in his speech. “The alternative is not a very good scenario.”
That the state of Illinois was headed in the wrong direction and needed to be taken back from the Democratic Party was a reoccurring theme with state Rep. Steve Reick, R-Woodstock, saying “things aren’t getting better in Illinois,” to attorney general candidate Thomas DeVore saying the state is in trouble “if we don’t get the right candidates in.”
Reick faces Democrat Brian Meyers in the Illinois House District 63, which spreads east from Woodstock through southern McHenry, northern Crystal Lake and Cary into Lake County. DeVore, who spent the morning at another campaign event at Around the Clock Restaurant in Crystal Lake, hopes to unseat incumbent Kwame Raoul.
In all, well over a dozen candidates from county, state and federal races spoke at the event, with some, such as Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, sending someone to speak on their behalf.
The SAFE-T Act was raised by many people as a concern. County Board candidate Joe Gottemoller said he worried about all the requirements that will come with it, including requiring court to be held every day and the funding needed to make that happen.
“[The bill] is just a mess,” he said.
Some called out their opponents directly, including County Board candidate Terri Greeno, who called her opponent, Democratic candidate Kelli Wegener who currently is on the board, the “most left-wing Marxist in the county.”
Catalina Lauf, a candidate for Illinois’ 11th District of the U.S. House of Representatives, said her opponent, Democrat and current House Rep. Bill Foster, is a far left person. She described the Democrats that way in general, as well.
“This is not [John F. Kennedy’s] Democratic Party,” she said. “These are far left extremists who are undermining the values of our country.”
Dave Salmi of McHenry said he was a supporter of Lauf because she has similar values to his, such as taking an issue with gerrymandering.
“The whole trend of Illinois has been such a disaster,” he said. “The stuff coming out of Springfield is crazy.”
Other issues included Amendment One, also known as the Workers’ Rights Amendment. A placard that many took home with them stated that a vote for the amendment would give unions more power.
“Amendment 1 would rob Illinoisans of representation in Springfield,” the placard reads.
While the issue didn’t come up very much in the candidates’ speeches, one constituent at the event, Rita Spantideas of Crystal Lake, said she felt abortion was murder. While she said she was willing to make some exceptions in extreme circumstances, she said she feels it’s a moral issue, not a political one.
“I understand [people] are upset because it was [a right] taken away from you, but you should have never had it in the first place,” she said.