McHenry County Democrats nominate Crystal Lake attorney for second try at County Board seat

Last year the County Board chose John Collins over Tom Pavelko despite his support from the party

The Democratic Party of McHenry County is making a second effort to get Crystal Lake attorney Tom Pavelko appointed to the open McHenry County Board District 2 seat.

County Democratic Party Chairwoman Kristina Zahorik submitted Pavelko’s nomination to McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler, R-Crystal Lake, in December after the County Board declared a vacancy for the District 2 seat formerly held by Democrat Jessica Phillips, who resigned in November.

Zahorik previously nominated Pavelko to fill the District 2 seat left open in early 2021 by the resignation of state Rep. Suzanne Ness, D-Crystal Lake. Board member John Collins, D-Crystal Lake, was selected to fill the seat.

“I hope the County Board gives me a fair consideration,” Pavelko said. “I think they’d be pleasantly surprised at how well they’d enjoy working with me.”

Collins’ nomination generated controversy for Buehler’s decision to not appoint the candidate preferred by the county party. Zahorik said she was disappointed Buehler did not take her recommendation last time and also did not include Phillips, who was the only Democrat representing District 2 at that time, in the nomination process.

The new board member this year must be a Democrat because Phillips was a Democrat.

Buehler said he has received four applicants for the position will be conducting interviews in the coming weeks with some Democrats on the board and will invite Zahorik to participate as well.

“Last time and this time will be done no differently,” Buehler said. “[Zahorik’s] suggestion will be given equal consideration as the other candidates.”

Pavelko, who was a former Lake in the Hills trustee, said he isn’t changing his pitch to the board from last year.

“I know I have gotten the endorsement of the Democratic Party, and I’d love to see myself get the opportunity to serve,” Pavelko said.

Pavelko said he did not receive any feedback last time about why he was not accepted to the position.

If selected to the board, Pavelko said his priority would be keeping the tax burden on residents and business low.

“I think when the pandemic ends, there’s going to be great opportunities for business growth. ... If we can stimulate business and agricultural development, I think we can increase our tax base and tamp down tax increases,” he said.

An attorney with the American Agricultural Insurance Company in Schaumburg, Pavelko also said he’d like to see the county further jump into solar energy and work to establish it as an energy source for the area.

The county has 60 days to nominate a successor to Phillips, and Buehler said he expects a nominee will go before the board for a vote in March.

Buehler also is close to choosing a new regional superintendent of education after Leslie Schermerhorn was removed from the office by the board following years of troubles with the office.

Buehler said he conducted three interviews for the position on Tuesday. After some discussion and making sure they meet the state’s requirements for the position, a nominee will go before the board for a vote at the board’s Jan. 18 meeting.