Amid a tight gubernatorial race and high-profile congressional contests, Madison County voters will decide on a number of local issues and candidates Nov. 4.
Perhaps the most prominent local showdown is between incumbent Republican Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler and Democrat Marleen Suarez of Collinsville. In the runup to the election, the candidates have traded accusations of unethical behavior and illegal actions.
Prenzler has questioned Suarez’s husband’s trucking firm making $90,000 from the Chemetco copper smelting plant while the plant was in bankruptcy and owed money to creditors, including local school districts. Chemetco, a federally designated toxic cleanup site near Hartford, was operated by a cousin of Suarez’s husband.
Suarez alleges Prenzler broke the law when he conducted a tax sale in February 2013 on property owned by political ally Don Weber before public bidding opened. Prenzler said the practice was a longtime custom in the county and he was advised by an assistant state’s attorney that it did not violate the law. But Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Prenzler was advised not to conduct the presale. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the Madison County Board Finance Committee’s request for an investigation into the matter.
The new state law on tax sales was enacted after former treasurer Fred Bathon was convicted in December 2013 of rigging the sales to let political allies get the maximum interest rate. The tax sales operate through a reverse auction in which buyers purchase properties of delinquent taxpayers by bidding to offer taxpayers the lowest interest rate.
Other contested county races include:
• County Clerk: Democrat incumbent Debbie Ming-Mendoza of Granite City will face challenger Republican Stephen J. Adler of Alton.
• County Board District 5: Incumbent Republican Michael “Mick” Madison of Bethalto will face challenger Democrat Will Hanfelder of Edwardsville.
• County Board District 9: Incumbent Democrat James “Jim” Dodd of Alton will face Republican Terrence G. Peterson of Alton.
• County Board District 10: Incumbent Democrat Bruce Malone of Alton will face challenger Chris Doucleff of Alton.
• County Board District 12: Democrat Steven L. Kochan of Wood River is running against independent Robert Pollard of East Alton.
• County Board District 14: Incumbent Republican Tom McRae of Bethalto is running against Democratic challenger Jared J. Hartsock of Bethalto.
• County Board District 21: Incumbent Democrat Arthur Asadorian of Granite City is running against challenger independent John “Chris” Janek of Granite City.
The County Board seats are four-year terms.
Candidates’ profiles are available on AdVantage News’ website at http://tinyurl.com/pbsfpa8.
Absentee voting runs until Monday, Nov. 3, and early voting is available until Sunday, Nov. 2. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. For more information, visit www.madisonvotes.com/elections.shtml. A voter information guide is available at http://www.madisonvotes.com/PDFs/2014VotersGuide3.pdf.
Alton advisory question
Voters in Alton will be asked if the city should name the fountain at the corner of Belle and Third streets downtown the Miles Davis Memorial Fountain.
The Miles Davis Memorial Project is raising funds to install a life-size statue of Davis, an Alton native and renowned jazz musician, on Third Street.
Voters will decide two proposals to amend the Illinois Constitution.
The first proposed amendment would allow crime victims to enforce their rights in court. The group Marsy’s Law for Illinois says the amendment would give victims and their families more legal recourse in court proceedings, while the Illinois Bar Association say those problems are better addressed through a legislative approach.
The second amendment would prohibit laws that affect citizens’ abilities to register to vote or cast a ballot based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation or income. The proposed amendment passed the Illinois Legislature earlier this year with bipartisan support.
Statewide advisory questions
Voters will be asked three nonbinding advisory questions on raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour by Jan. 1, requiring insurance plans to offer birth control and amending the state constitution to provide revenue to school districts from an additional 3 percent tax on incomes of more than $1 million per year.