For 2nd time, Buehler skips Democrats’ choice for McHenry County Board vacancy

Democratic recommendation says, ‘I honestly don’t know why they won’t put me on the board’

McHenry County Conservation District Trustee Carolyn Campbell is McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler's choice to replace Jessica Phillips, who resigned in November.

For the second time in a year, McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler snubbed the Democrats’ choice to fill a board vacancy and nominated someone else.

This time it’s McHenry County Conservation District Trustee Carolyn Campbell instead of Thomas Pavelka. In March 2021, it was John Collins instead of Pavelka.

Pavelka, an attorney and former Lake in the Hills trustee who now lives in Crystal Lake, was McHenry County Democrats’ choice both times.

“It does disappoint me that Chairman Buehler would say he’s going to give great deference to the party’s choice and then goes off and up in other directions – twice,” Pavelka said. “I’m not some major Democratic player. … I honestly don’t know why they won’t put me on the board. They would enjoy working with me. I’m easy to deal with, and I get along with people.”

Buehler, a Republican, must pick a Democrat who lives in District 2 to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Jessica Phillips, who resigned in November, but he does not have to choose the party’s recommendation.

McHenry County Board Chairman Michael Buehler

The County Board will vote on Campbell’s appointment at its next voting meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the McHenry County Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

The public can stream it live or watch it later on the county meeting portal at

District 2 includes all or parts of Crystal Lake, Cary, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills and Lakewood.

Democratic Party of McHenry County Chairwoman Kristina Zahorik said in a text message that the party would support Campbell.

“While she was not the recommended choice of the Democratic Party of McHenry County, she is a Democrat, and we support her being seated by the board to represent District 2,” Zahorik said in the text.

Pavelka suggested that Buehler might have chosen Campbell over him because she listed the board’s vice chair, Carolyn Schofield, who also is a Republican, as one of three personal references.

But Buehler said Campbell listing Schofield as a reference was not a consideration in his choice of nominee.

“I gave all candidates equal consideration in the interview process,” Buehler said. “Six candidates were interviewed. … I was primarily looking for the best qualified board member going forward. I did check voting records of all six, and all had Democratic voting records in the primaries prior to applying.”

Campbell said she listed Schofield as a reference because their sons played in youth soccer together and both husbands were youth soccer coaches. She said she also listed Schofield and the other two references – attorney Diane Klotnia and sales representative Mark Kuczera – when she applied to serve on the McHenry County Conservation District board, which is nonpartisan.

“It is a conservative county, and I do have friends,” Campbell said.

In a text message, Schofield wrote that she and Campbell have been friends for over a decade.

“She is a wonderful person and everyone loves her, regardless of political affiliation,” Schofield’s text said. “She is a hard working, intelligent person who will be an asset to the county board. With her background and knowledge she will be able to get to work immediately which is important given the short term of the appointment. We continue to be fortunate to receive so many excellent candidates. The chairman had a very difficult decision given the quality of candidates.”

Regarding her nomination, Campbell said, “I’m very exited about the opportunity to serve on the County Board. I have been a trustee on the McHenry County Conservation District for over 4 1/2 years and have had an opportunity to serve the county in that capacity.

“[I’ve] spent quite a bit of time getting to know the issues that are out there, not only with the conservation district but the county as a whole. I look forward to continuing to serve McHenry County residents.”

Her five-year term on the MCCD board ends in June, but Campbell will have to leave that position sooner if her nomination to serve on the County Board is approved.

Campbell also volunteered at Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 and served as assistant finance director for the villages of Bartlett and Wilmette, according to a news release about her nomination.

“Carolyn Campbell has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to McHenry County through her public service and volunteer work, and her knowledge of government finance,” Buehler said in the release. “Her balance of knowledge of government management and her passion for volunteering will make her a great new addition to the County Board.”

After the Nov. 8 midterm elections, effective Dec. 1, the County Board will be reapportioned into nine districts of two members each, down from the current six districts of four representatives each.

The new map can be found on the county clerk’s website at

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