Recount shows all four Huntley School District 158 incumbents leading in reelection bid

Two incumbents, on track election night to lose their seats, now to retain seats, unofficial results show following recount

A recount of votes in McHenry County has significantly changed the outcome of one of the most hotly contested school board races in the suburbs.

Tuesday’s election results originally showed two Huntley School District 158 incumbents being reelected and two being ousted by newcomers.

That changed Friday when McHenry County posted the results of its recount due to election night anomalies that resulted in votes in some races being misreported.

Now, all four District 158 incumbents – Sean Cratty, Lesli Melendy, Paul Troy and Anthony “Tony” Quagliano – have been reelected, unofficial results show.

Quagliano said he heard about the issues with McHenry County’s reporting of election results that led to a countywide recount of votes Thursday, but he said he “had no idea” if it was going to affect his own race.

“Quite frankly, I did think the results were a little strange, but it wasn’t to the point where I was going to question it,” he said. “It wasn’t my expectation of what was going to happen, but then I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’m just that out of touch.’ ”

When he looked at the results Tuesday night, Quagliano said, he thought it was strange that he and Troy were among the top candidates in Kane County’s election results but not in McHenry County’s. He said he brushed it off, however, attributing it to the low voter turnout rate, which was 9.5% in McHenry County.

District 158 had 10 candidates – the four incumbents and six newcomers – vying for four spots on the board. The district’s pandemic response motivated the large field of hopefuls and was among the top priorities in their campaigns.

Even with this added competition, Quagliano said he felt confident going into the election given all of the things he has accomplished during his time as a board member and, more recently, as president of the board. He said he expected the incumbents would claim all four seats, as they did.

“We were all endorsed by both the papers and the union, so I would have expected the community to be pretty much aligned with that,” he said. “Thank goodness there are people who were paying attention. We would have never known. ... It’s just a bizarre twist to a bizarre year.”

As of Friday afternoon, Cratty received 1,518 votes, or 14.5% of the total vote; Melendy 1,401, or 13.4%; Troy 1,400, or 13.4%; and Quagliano 1,340, or 12.8%, unofficial totals in Kane and McHenry counties show.

The candidates not currently in the top four include newcomers Susan Hochmuth with 1,091 votes, or 10.4%; Laura Murray with 1,036, or 9.9%; Katherine “Kate” Policheri with 1,032, or 9.9%; Dana Dalton-Wiley with 931, or 8.9%; and Tara Masino with 705, or 6.7%.

On Tuesday night, it seemed as if newcomers Policheri and Murray would take the third and fourth spots, ousting Quagliano and Troy, the current board secretary. But the recount showed otherwise.

Also running was Jennifer Sargent, the only write-in candidate. Votes cast for write-in candidates in McHenry County have not yet been posted but will be put on the clerk’s office homepage, not the county’s election results page, when fully counted, according to a message posted to the election results page Friday afternoon.

During the campaign, all of the candidates emphasized the need to address learning gaps because of the pandemic’s disruptions, and several stressed supporting students’ mental and social-emotional health going forward.

The district’s kindergarten through fifth-grade students began full in-person learning five days a week March 15.

Kelli Duncan

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.