10 candidates file for Woodstock City Council, while Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian will run unopposed

Number of filings mean no primary will be needed for either city

Wendy Barker, who is running for the Woodstock City Council, signs her candidate filing papers as Jane Howie, an executive assistant and election official with the city of Woodstock, on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, at City Hall. Monday was the last day to file for the cities of Woodstock and Crystal Lake.

Several business owners, local leaders, a real estate agent, incumbents and some who have previously ran for public office make up the list of those vying for City Council seats in Woodstock and Crystal Lake in the upcoming local elections.

Monday marked the last day for candidates in Crystal Lake and Woodstock to file to run for City Council, as well as the mayoral race in Crystal Lake. The filing period opened last week, and throughout saw more than a dozen people file across both cities.

Of those looking for a seat, some said they like the direction their city is headed in, while others offered critiques of recent decisions made by city’s current leadership.

In Crystal Lake, one person, Robert Brechbiel, has filed since last week, City Clerk Nick Kachiroubas said on Monday. He joins incumbents Brett Hopkins and Ellen Brady, as well as local businesswoman Denise Smith and Donald Kountz, who ran for Crystal Lake mayor two years ago.

In Woodstock, seven new people have filed since last week, bringing Woodstock’s total up to 10 candidates. The candidates include incumbent deputy mayor and council member Darrin Flynn, business owner Mark Indyke, Melissa McMahon of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, Thomas West, real estate agent Bryson Calvin, Wendy Barker, former council member Joe Starzynski, marketer Natalie Ziemba, Holly Adkins and Woodstock Pride President Crystal Squires.

Woodstock and Crystal Lake are the only two towns in the county that were eligible for a run-off election, which would have been held Feb. 28. A run-off is triggered once candidates that have filed equals four times the number of available seats, according to the state’s election code.

As a result, neither Woodstock or Crystal Lake will not need a primary. Instead, voters will select their choices during the general April election, which will also include school, park, fire protection district and Village Board races.

Melissa McMahon, who is running for the Woodstock City Council waits for Jane Howie, an executive assistant and election official with the city, to receive her candidate filing papers on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, at City Hall. Monday was the last day to file for the cities of Woodstock and Crystal Lake.

In Woodstock, McMahon decided to run in part because the only two women on the City Council both decided against running for another term. She also wants to see the city continue in the direction it’s headed and to help it keep growing and continue with a number of developments it has planned.

“I’ve been very involved for years,” McMahon said. “My goal since day one has been to make Woodstock better. I love this town. ... I think we need people on council who will help continue that momentum.”

Indyke, who has previously ran for City Council and has served on the city’s Transportation Commission and several other local organizations’ boards, said he is running because he is concerned with the level of development going on in the city.

He wants to see development happen at a more “controlled pace,” pointing specifically to the Die Cast site in downtown. The city has tentatively chosen a company to help lead the development, but Indyke worries about the development’s affect on other properties and city services, as well as other due diligence he thinks may be needed.

“I’m not anti development, he said. “But the way the city is giving away property and spending money on development, I do not believe there’s an adequate infrastructure [and services] to afford it.”

Calvin said on Monday he felt the current City Council was doing a wonderful job, and if elected, he would have “big shoes to fill.” One of his main priorities would be to continue advocating for work on the roads, calling them “a nightmare.”

Calvin has previously been a trustee for Dorr Township, but resigned recently after moving out of the jurisdiction.

“I really have zero issues with a lot of what have taken place [with the City Council],” he said.

Jane Howie, an executive assistant and election official with the city of Woodstock, stamps the candidate filing papers of Wendy Barker, who is running for the City Council, on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, at City Hall. Monday was the last day to file for the cities of Woodstock and Crystal Lake.

The two other incumbents, Wendy Piersall and Lisa Lohmeyer, said last week they have no intention of rerunning. However, Piersall left the door open to possibly run again in the future.

In Crystal Lake, Mayor Haig Haleblian is seeking his first full term as mayor after he was appointed in May 2020 to replace the late Aaron Shepley, and then won a special election the following year.

No one filed to challenge Haleblian for the post.

For the City Council, Cathy Ferguson is the lone incumbent who has not filed, and has no plans to, Haleblian said last week. Ferguson, both this week and last, could not be reached for comment.

Kountz said in an email on Monday he is running because he didn’t think the Crystal Court shopping center needs to be made into a tax increment financing, or TIF, district, saying it will put the burden “on the backs of the schoolchildren.”

A TIF is a financial tool used by governments to help fund various redevelopment projects by earmarking newly created property tax revenue within the district for redevelopment and improvement projects. A new development called Water’s Edge proposes 271 rental units, a grocery store, new retail and restaurant space, and a hotel for the almost vacant shopping center.

Kountz also said Crystal Lake should not be charging 20% late fees on water bills.

“I hope I can bring a unique perspective to the City Council for the benefit of its residents,” Kountz said.

Candidates filed the morning of Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, at Crystal Lake City Hall to run in city political races. Current Mayor Haig Haleblian, left, was among the candidates filing.