McHenry County Democrats recommend Crystal Lake attorney to fill County Board vacancy

Thomas Pavelko is the local party’s pick to fill the seat of Suzanne Ness

The McHenry County Democratic Party has recommended Thomas Pavelko, a Crystal Lake attorney, to fill the vacant McHenry County Board seat left by state Rep.-elect Suzanne Ness, who is set to resign from her position as a County Board member Jan. 8.

If McHenry County Board Chairman Mike Buehler decides to follow this recommendation and the County Board approves the appointment, Pavelko could become the new representative for District 2 – which includes all or parts of Crystal Lake, Cary, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills and Lakewood – as soon as this month.

“[Pavelko] brings experience and depth to the appointment. He is a good fit for District 2 and for the board,” McHenry County Democratic Party Chairwoman Kristina Zahorik said in a news release Friday. “I think once meeting Mr. Pavelko and reviewing his qualifications, they should support our recommendation.”

Pavelko has been a resident of McHenry County since 1998 and currently works as an attorney, according to the news release. His experience in public office includes a stint as Lake in the Hills village trustee and as a member of the village’s Planning and Zoning Board as well as its Parks and Recreation Board.

He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Crystal Lake South Hockey Club and as president of the Spring Lake Farm Homeowners Association, according to the release.

In a Dec. 7 interview, Ness said she was hoping that her seat would be filled by a female candidate. In general, though, she said it should be someone who “shares the same values of fairness and integrity” as she does.

Ness, who defeated incumbent Allen Skillicorn in District 66 this past November, said she spent a great deal of time and effort building relationships within her community and with her fellow board members, something that she said she hopes her successor will prioritize as well.

“I am pleased to support a strong Democrat who has a willingness to serve the people of District 2,” Ness said in the Friday news release.

As the board’s new chairman, it will be up to Buehler to bring a nomination forward on who should fill the seat. Buehler’s nomination will then need to be confirmed by a vote of the full County Board.

Ness’ seat is one of two McHenry County Board seats that will need to be filled in the coming months. The second belonged to the late Chuck Wheeler, who died Nov. 12.

Each seat must be filled by a candidate of the same party as the outgoing board member and candidates must reside within the same district, according to state statute. This process must be completed within 60 days of when the seats are officially declared to be vacant.

McHenry County Republican Party Chairman Tyler Wilke said Buehler has allowed him to sit in on interviews with candidates who hope to fill the Wheeler seat, which began last week. The party will give their input on the process this way, rather than naming their own candidate, he said.

The McHenry County GOP is hoping for a qualified candidate “who has community involvement, been in the community, and understands and sees what issues face District 4,” Wilke said in an interview Sunday.

District 4 covers Richmond, Johnsburg, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake and most of McHenry.

As to whether the chairman will go along with recommendations made by the two parties, Buehler told the Northwest Herald in November that their input would “carry a great deal of weight” in his decision-making process around filling vacancies.

“I would probably consider their recommendations first and foremost, ... but I wouldn’t just default to that,” Buehler said then.

Kelli Duncan

Kelli Duncan is a reporter for the Northwest Herald covering county government as well as the communities of Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Marengo and Harvard. She has previously covered local politics, immigration and feature stories.