House District 50 voters face a fresh slate this fall, with the retirement of Rep. Patricia Reid Lindner.
Looking to replace her in Springfield are a Republican with political and business experience; a Democrat who helped write national legislation; and a Green Party candidate deliberately running a low-key campaign.
The 50th District includes parts of Kane, Kendall, and LaSalle counties.
The most familiar name among the three is that of Kay Hatcher, Kendall County Forest Preserve District chairman.
Hatcher, 63, is a former marketing executive for Ameritech, and currently works for Senior Services Associates. She is married, and has four children, ages 30 to 41. She served on the Oswego school board and the Kendall County board.
"I can hit the ground running a lot faster than anybody else could," Hatcher said.
Hatcher cites her ability to get along with people, and her reputation, as strong assets.
"Folks have seen me everywhere for decades," she said. "I'm a known entity. They trust my word."
Hatcher, who grew up on a farm downstate, has helped govern Kendall County during a decade that saw the once-rural county's population nearly double in size.
"I have dealt with change in every possible environment," she said.
Democrat Schneider, 46, is a stay-at-home mother now, after working for 25 years in medical administration management. She has lived in the district for three years, is married and has a son and daughter in elementary school. She was elected a precinct committeeman in February, and serves on advisory committees for Sen. Barack Obama and state Sen. William Haine, an Alton Democrat.
Schneider is a grass roots advocate for stem cell research; her interest began after her son, then 4, received an infusion of blood from his own umbilical cord, to treat his cerebral palsy. Umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells, undifferentiated cells which can make cells for various body tissues, including the brain.
She testified in 2006 before a Senate subcommittee debating bioethics, and was invited to a signing ceremony at the White House for three pieces of stem-cell legislation. President George W. Bush signed two of them, allowing research on stem cells from sources other than embryos, but vetoed one that would have allowed use of embryonic stem cells.
That didn't sit well with Schneider and her husband, who protested quietly by sitting down during the veto while everybody else stood and clapped.
"I don't mince my words," said Schneider of her style. And the fact that the seat has been held by a Republican for at least 15 years doesn't faze her.
"I would not have agreed to run if I did not think this was a doable race," she said, rhetorically questioning what benefit 50th District residents got out of being represented by Republicans, if an unwanted Prairie Parkway is going through and landfills are being sited in fast-developing Kendall County.
"A lot of Democrats who never felt comfortable talking to anyone else are coming out of the closet," she said.
Rounding out the field is Sandra Lezon of Plano, running on the Green Party ticket.
The former Libertarian is passionate about fiscal and ecological issues.
She is surprised at the amount of attention her campaign is getting. Especially since, as of mid-October, she hadn't posted any signs, or printed any four-color fliers. She sees both as wasteful, and her campaign as "bare bones and to the point," meeting with voters in person. "A lot of people are tired of their mailboxes being flooded," she said, but then turned to her campaign manager with a laugh and said "We really should have a few signs made up." But just for the Green Party: "rather than just glorifying myself."
Lezon is single and the mother of two children, both in college. She has lived in the district for more than 20 years.
She is the treasurer of the Kendall County Green Party Central Committee, a state central committeewoman for the party, co-chairman of the Slow-the-Growth Committee, and president of the Fox Valley Green Party Women's Association.
Lezon did not turn in the Daily Herald's questionnaire, but did meet for an interview.
She believes that being a member of a minority party could be used to advantage in the State House, where the balance of power is close. "There would be a bonus on either side to get you on their side," which could be used to gain concessions, she said.