Almost four dozen of the local races in McHenry County will be competitive Tuesday, as voters head to the polls to decide who will lead their school boards, municipalities, libraries and parks.
Although local races typically see less turnout compared with presidential and midterm elections, this year’s races are receiving more attention – financially, through endorsements and in other activity – in McHenry County, statewide and nationally, compared with previous years.
Of the 151 races on McHenry County ballots, 45 are competitive this year, McHenry County Clerk’s Office election data shows. Most of these are school board races, with 18 of the 33 races on the ballot competitive, followed by 14 municipal races out of the 58 total.
If you really want to have an impact on the world around you, this is the time to get in the game.”— McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio
This year, more people are engaged in the political process than in previous years that Tirio said he’s seen. For Tirio, he thinks the story of the election will be the prevalence of mail-in ballots, which have remained a popular voting method since 2020.
One week out, more than 27,000 people requested mail-in ballots for the April election. That’s more than the number of people who voted in total in the 2021 consolidated election, according to county election results.
“If you really want to have an impact on the world around you, this is the time to get in the game,” Tirio said. “Make sure you vote, and bring someone with you to vote.”
Here is a breakdown of which races are competitive:
Woodstock, with nine candidates vying for three spots on its City Council, is the most competitive municipal race on this year’s ballot, according to the McHenry County Clerk’s Office candidates list. Only one incumbent is running.
McHenry, not far behind, has seven candidates and four total spots on its City Council with three incumbents running. Crystal Lake has five candidates – two of whom are incumbents – running for three spots on its City Council.
Of the 151 races on McHenry County ballots, 45 are competitive this year, McHenry County Clerk’s Office election data shows. Most of these are school board races with 18 of the 33 races on the ballot competitive, followed by 14 municipal races out of the 58 total.
Crystal Lake’s mayoral race is uncompetitive but features current Mayor Haig Haleblian running as a write-in candidate. He will need only one vote to secure reelection, Tirio has said.
Other competitive races include Johnsburg, with six candidates running for three four-year seats and two for one two-year spot; Algonquin, with five candidates and three seats; and Trout Valley, with six candidates for three seats.
In Harvard, one of its wards has a competitive race, with two candidates vying to represent the 1st Ward. The villages of Cary, McCullom Lake and Richmond all have four candidates vying for three seats.
The race for the Holiday Hills Village Board is competitive, although its race for village president is not, as incumbent Jeff Giles, who took over the role after the death of former Village President Lou French, is the lone candidate.
In many ways, school board races both in McHenry County and across the country have attracted outsized attention from groups across the political spectrum.
Several races have more than double the number of candidates, compared with available positions, with the most competitive race in Huntley School District 158, in which nine candidates are running for three four-year terms and three are vying for one two-year seat.
Other competitive races include Algonquin-based Community School District 300, with eight candidates vying for four seats, and Barrington School District 220, with seven candidates competing for three spots.
Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 has seven candidates running for three four-year spots and two for one two-year seat. Cary School District 26 has five candidates for three spots, and Nippersink School District 2 has five candidates for three four-year terms and one for one two-year term.
In Fox River Grove School District 3, six candidates are running for three four-year seats, and one candidate, Laura Vanderploeg, has filed as a write-in candidate for one of two open two-year spots. McHenry High School District 156 has five candidates for three spots.
Many races have just enough candidates to make the race competitive, having one more person than available spots.
Those races include Wauconda School District 118, Woodstock School District 200, Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155, McHenry School District 15 and Prairie Grove School District 46.
The race for the McHenry County College Board of Trustees also is competitive, with three candidates vying for two full terms and two for one two-year spot.
Most library and park district races are not competitive this year, with many not having enough candidates to fill the ballot, according to the candidacy list.
Four of the 24 library board races are competitive. They include the Barrington Public Library District, with four candidates for two six-year terms and two for one two-year term, and the Algonquin and Cary libraries, which both have two candidates running for one seat.
The lone competitive park district race – out of five on the ballot – is the Crystal Lake Park District, where five candidates are running for three open commissioner seats, two of whom are incumbents.
Three races for fire protection districts also are competitive, including the Cary and Huntley districts, in which three candidates are running for two seats, and the Richmond Township Fire Protection District, with two candidates vying for one seat.
Races without enough candidates
The Huntley, Fox River Grove, Fox Lake, McHenry, Wauconda, River East and Nippersink library boards are all short candidates as well.
School districts with not enough candidates include Richmond-Burton High School District 157, District 3 and Harrison School District 36.
In total, 22 races out of 151 do not have enough candidates to fill the open spots.