Just a few thousand McHenry County Republican primary voters decided the fate of five competitive races across three local townships Tuesday, choosing Republican candidates for various races in Algonquin, Nunda and Grafton townships, which, in some cases, meant deciding the overall winner.
A preliminary total of 3,426 ballots were cast in Tuesday’s primary, with 805 people voting early and 82 people by mail, according to McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio and numbers posted to the county’s election results page.
The county clerk’s office sent out a total of 115 vote-by-mail ballots, meaning they could still receive more ballots that will be counted as long as they were postmarked on Tuesday at latest, Tirio said. Either way, it is looking likely that voter turnout will cap out at fewer than 4,000 residents, or 2.8% of the county’s registered voters.
Four years ago, during the 2017 primary, 9,252 ballots were cast, representing about 7.2% of registered voters, historical election data shows. The primary had more competitive races across the same three townships.
“In smaller elections like this, your voice is magnified because as opposed to a presidential election where your voice is one of 100,000, today you would be one of just several thousand,” Tirio said. “So your voice really carries farther than it otherwise would.”
“So much is affected by local elections, especially when it comes to property taxes,” he said. “It is, unfortunately, hard to get people excited about this, and I don’t know quite why that is. ... It’s so important to get out there and vote, so I’m hoping that people will do so come April 6.”
As the ballots were counted Tuesday night, it became clear that Randolph “Randy” Funk will become the next Algonquin Township supervisor. Funk garnered 57% of the vote over current Algonquin Township Trustee Elaine Ramesh, who received 30% of the vote, and former federal law enforcement officer Kirk Cole, who got 13% of the vote.
Given that no candidates from opposing parties decided to run for the Algonquin Township supervisor role, Funk’s name will appear on the April 6 ballot alone as the de facto winner of the race.
Algonquin Township includes parts of Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Crystal Lake and Lake in the Hills.
In the Algonquin Township highway commissioner race, Danijela Sandberg won 57% of the vote over Robert “Bob” Bragg (43%) and will now face off against independent candidate Derek Lee in the April election.
In Nunda Township, which includes parts of Crystal Lake, Prairie Grove and Bull Valley, Mike Lesperance garnered 53% of the vote to become the Republican nominee for highway commissioner. His opponent, Eric Dowd, received 47% of the vote, according to election night results.
The top Republican candidates for the four open trustee seats in Nunda Township were Johanna Donahue with 16% of the vote, Karen Tynis with 16%, Rob Parrish with 15% and Timothy Parris with 14% as of late Tuesday evening. Mark Daniel trailed Parrish by 32 votes, also with 14% of the vote, followed by Justin Franzke with 13% and Robert Koidahl with 12%.
In Grafton Township, which includes Huntley and Lakewood, newcomer Terra De Baltz won 90% of the vote over incumbent Alan Zielinski to become the Republican candidate for the township assessor, a role that entails valuing property for taxing purposes.
These candidates will appear as Republicans on April 6 general election ballots, which will determine who will hold offices for municipal governments, townships, school boards and other agencies. All other races in Tuesday’s primary were uncontested.
Running uncontested races were: in Algonquin Township, Richard S. Alexander for assessor, Maureen Huff for clerk and Edward Zimel Jr., Millie Medendorp, Teresa Sharpe Decker and Theresa Fronczak for trustee; in Grafton Township, Eric Ruth for supervisor, Kathleen Watson for clerk, Frank Kearns for highway commissioner and Lesli Melendy, Sean Cratty, Dan Ziller Jr. and Matthew Cooper for trustee; and in Nunda Township, Leda Bobera-Drain for supervisor, Joni Smith for clerk and Mark Dzemske for assessor.
This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Danijela Sandberg’s name.