GOP Kane Board Chair Race: The 'CEO' vs. the 'Reformer'
The Kane County Board chairman race on the Republican side pits Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns against state Sen. Chris Lauzen.
The name that is not mentioned on most campaign literature from either candidate in the GOP primary race for Kane County Board chairman is that of the current board chair, Karen McConnaughay.
But in some ways, McConnaughay's name is written between the lines of every campaign message of the two Republicans vying for the open seat.
And in some ways, the March 20 nomination is a referendum that measures the effectiveness and popularity of McConnaughay's two terms in office.
The race between Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and state Sen. Chris Lauzen has many nuances and subplots, but its theme comes down to a contest between the "CEO" and the "reformer."
Kevin Burns' central message from Day One of the campaign to the most-recently distributed campaign flyers and political ads is that the County Board chairman is "the CEO and top administrator of the county's complex governmental organization ... an executive position that requires executive experience."
He says he has that, as the mayor of Geneva for more than a decade. He says his opponent does not, having served as state senator for 19 years.
Burns has campaigned with McConnaughay. He has commented on numerous occasions that the county is in excellent financial shape, with credit in large part going to McConnaghay and the Kane County Board.
"It's fashionable to criticize those who hold the office for the organization you want to lead, because in some respects, it becomes red meat," the mayor said in a candidates forum in St. Charles way back on Jan. 12. "The reality is, the county is in pretty dog-gone good shape."
During his campaign, Lauzen has stressed three issues from Day One: freezing the property tax levy, "honest, competent administration through innovation and austerity" and "restoring trust in public service."
To that last point, Lauzen has repeatedly underlined that "cultural cronyism" is part of the McConnaughay administration and requires change.
"There's a 70 percent correlation between campaign cash amounts and contracts, employment, and other political favors," Lauzen says in a political flyer. "We will end pay-to-play politics in Kane County."
The contrasts between the two candidates are many. Lauzen is a social conservative, Burns a social moderate. Lauzen is considered something of a political renegade in Springfield, Burns' campaign is chaired by the state Republican Party chairman. Lauzen's campaign has emphasized his independent voting record, even by bucking his own party when he disagreed; the Burns camp has emphasized his ability as a leader and consensus-builder.
On the issues, the two candidates vary in several points. Among them:
- Lauzen is against the idea of hiring an administrator for Kane County; Burns said he would consider creating that position at some time in the future.
- Burns would create a position of economic development director.
- Lauzen is opposed to red-light cameras. Burns says he favors common-sense restrictions but has argued in favor or their use in Geneva.
- Burns would enact an 18-month moratorium on road impact fees.
- Lauzen likes a zero-based budget approach, which starts the budget process from zero rather than the previous year's levels.
- Burns would establish quarterly "Economic Development Forums" with village and city leaders.
- Lauzen wants to see 48-hour disclosure on the county website of any contractor contributions in excess of $150.
- Burns has called for an immediate 10 percent decrease in the chairman's salary.
- Former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald
- 14th District Congressman Randy Hultgren
- DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin
- Illinois Tea Party
- Former state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger