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Kane County Board chairman welcomes bipartisan politics
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Karen McConnaughay


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Published: 11/10/2008 4:54 PM

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Re-elected Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay doesn't like the one-party dominance in Washington, D.C. that will color her new term in office, but the Democrat and Republican mix on the Kane County Board will serve the public just fine, she said.

Some good opportunities, such as the Olympics, could come to Illinois by having a president with a local pedigree, but the trick will be getting state and federal Democrats to pay attention to a Kane County with diverse political views.

"At the end of the day, I don't think anybody is better served by one-party control," McConnaughay said at a postelection sit-down with the press.

"It's just a bad thing," McConnaughay said. "Republicans had it for awhile, and they screwed it up. (It's) guaranteed Democrats are going to screw it up now. Locally, you've got a pretty fair balance of Democrats and Republicans here, and it forces everyone to work together. That's a good thing. Everyone has got to be at the table."

That may include a whole new crowd of voters who previously haven't paid much attention to local or county politics, McConnaughay said. Barack Obama's candidacy showed the importance and potential impact of reaching out to the community by the Internet and into the voting hearts of younger members of the public.

"The question of can we get them engaged locally is really a challenge," McConnaughay said. "There's no question that this election cycle has defined a clear difference in how you campaign. Our challenge is to understand the communication changes and really adopt to that. People are in the frame of mind right now where they want to pay attention."

Part of the difficulty with the changing communication and political scene is the impact of unchecked blogging and the infusion of inexperienced candidates who spend entire campaigns on the attack, McConnaughay said.

"Because of blogging, people can say anything they want," McConnaughay said. "They don't have to justify it. They can just say it. If you're sitting in a position of incumbency you spend all your time trying to deconstruct the nonsense."

McConnaughay also said candidates should earn some basic government experience before running for high offices.

"There's less discipline in the parties to really groom people and really try them out," McConnaughay said. "Good places to try out candidates for offices are the library districts and park boards. You have people today who have this idea that they just feel like running for office and have no idea what the office is about. This isn't about the Democrats. It's about candidates in general no matter what party. Wouldn't you want to start by being a county board member or on your local city council?"