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Kane board candidate's campaign could get boost from appointment
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Arlene Shoemaker

 

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Published: 11/5/2009 12:02 AM | Updated: 11/5/2009 10:40 AM

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The Kane County Board will have a new face even before the 2010 elections as the need to fill a vacancy may elevate a candidate to a seat on the board.

Arlene Shoemaker, from District 3 in Aurora, announced her retirement, effective Oct. 31. Shoemaker is moving out of her big house and into a smaller residence adjacent to one of her 10 children. The move places Shoemaker out of the district.

"I'm not real happy about leaving my house or district," Shoemaker said. However, as she ages, Shoemaker has found a need to be closer to family and less use for such a large home. "I just can't keep up with this house anymore," she said.

Shoemaker still has the desire to serve, and plans to continue volunteering at the Kane County Forest Preserve District.

"There's plenty of work," Shoemaker said. "There is always something going on in my life."

As far as running again for the Kane County Board in a new district?

"Never say never," Shoemaker said.

In the meantime, Shoemaker's retirement creates an immediate vacancy on the Kane County Board. The board has 60 days to fill Shoemaker's seat with another Democrat, as required by law. If Shoemaker has anything to say about it, Jennifer Laesch will be the newest county board member as early as next week.

Laesch is set to square off against Juan Reyna in the Democratic primary for Shoemaker's seat in February. There is one Republican vying for the office, Dennis Burgin.

Shoemaker has already recommended Laesch to Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay and Kane County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Guethle. Shoemaker said both McConnaughay and Guethle told her they had no problems appointing Laesch.

"The reason I chose her is she's my neighbor here," Shoemaker said. "She's just really smart. I have a lot of feelings for this district, and I just wish it well. I hope somebody gets appointed who really cares about this district."

Guethle said he has no control over who is appointed to Shoemaker's seat. He refused comment about Laesch being the likely appointee or the effect that would have on the election.

"Typically, (McConnaughay) asks me, but that doesn't mean anything," Guethle said. "She and board decide who they want to appoint. The party has no ruling."

Laesch is the wife of John Laesch, a former opponent of Dennis Hastert for the 14th Congressional District seat. On Wednesday, Jennifer Laesch said she'd received no word about being the appointee to Shoemaker's seat.

"I'd be quite overwhelmed and surprised if I was appointed," she said. "Those are quite big shoes to fill with Arlene being such an active member in the community."

Reyna said he hasn't heard anything about who will be appointed to the vacant seat, but he'd be very disappointed if Laesch received such an unfair advantage in the election.

Laesch said she wouldn't view the appointment as an advantage.

"Throughout my whole life I've always been known to work for what I've achieved," she said. "I'm willing to work for the people."

The county board is expected to vote on an appointee at its meeting next week. Board members have asked for advanced notice of the identity of the appointee to allow for a thorough vetting.