The March 20 Republican primary race for Kane County clerk pits two former allies against each other as incumbent Jack Cunningham seeks a fifth term while his former chief deputy, Stan Bond, is challenging him for the nomination.
Bond served in the clerk’s office from December 2011, first as a desk clerk, then applications analyst, then chief deputy clerk, until February 2015, when Cunningham eliminated his position, he said.
Bond now works in information technology as the business coordinator in the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s Office.
Bond also is a trustee on the Montgomery Village Board and is a member of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee.
Cunningham said Bond’s candidacy is in response to the elimination of his position at the clerk’s office.
“Basically knowing human nature, there is always the possibility that it’s politics for him to run against me,” Cunningham said. “He doesn’t have his job. Am I surprised? No. But he’s still on the payroll at the county.”
Bond said that Cunningham’s assessment of his candidacy “annoys me.”
“It diminishes my intellect by making the implication that I would only dream of running against him if I were petty and offended,” Bond said. “I can and will clean up that office and everyone knows it.”
By “clean up the office,” Bond said he would run a more transparent clerk’s office where job openings would be posted.
In particular, Bond was speaking of the hiring of former County Board member Brian Pollock, an Aurora Democrat, whom Cunningham hired as the alternative language coordinator at a salary of $78,000 a year for 30 hours of work per week.
Pollock, an attorney, served on the County Board from 2012 to 2016.
According to a Freedom of Information request, Cunningham did not post the position of alternative language coordinator before hiring Pollock in January 2017.
Cunningham said he was not legally required to post the job position, so he didn’t.
“I hire based on talent,” Cunningham said. “I see talent and I utilize that talent. I did not advertise this position.”
Bond said he would have advertised the position.
“I would have posted it internally the first 10 days and then I would have advertised it publicly,” Bond said. “There are many people in Kane County who would qualify for that position as described.”
Bond also questioned the salary for the position as the previous employee who served as the alternative language coordinator, Joel Gonzales, earned $43,268 in 2012, according to county wage and payroll records.
Gonzales, who died in 2013, worked 35 hours a week, county records show.
Cunningham said the coordinator position under Pollock is different.
“I reorganized the office and got rid of the dead weight,” Cunningham said. “Brian is not only doing Joel’s job, but is also actively involved in the running of the office. He has a great ability for getting grants. And because of him, we were able to get legislation through, cutting down on the number of judges per precinct … to a minimum of three judges per precinct, a $100,000 savings per year for our office.”
While Bond asserted that he would do a better, more efficient job at running the clerk’s office, Cunningham said he already is doing that.
“I don’t have to respond to political jabs,” Cunningham said. “I’m very capable at saving taxpayers’ money.”
Cunningham said eliminating Bond’s former position reduced his budget by $200,000.
“I’m not interested in running this office by playing petty politics,” Cunningham said.
As to politics at the clerk’s office, Cunningham pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating the county’s ethics ordinance by using county-related computer equipment to conduct prohibited political activities, a misdemeanor.
Cunningham paid a $500 fine, plus $45 in court costs.
Bond said he would work to see that politics are removed from the clerk’s office.
“It’s undeniable. There’s not anyone who honestly believes that’s not a political environment,” Bond said of the county clerk’s office. “We can do a better job for our citizens and possibly do it at a lower cost. I think once you are past an election, you are no longer a politician but a servant of the people.”
Cunningham countered that serving the public is what he has done nearly all his life.
“I have prepared for public service my whole life. It’s been the goal of my entire life,” Cunningham said. “In high school, I was president of the junior class and vice president of the student council. I was president of the [Phi Delta Theta], teaching Roberts Rules of Order, and I was president of the Latin Club.”
An Aurora resident, Cunningham previously served on the Aurora City Council for eight years and holds two doctorate degrees in law.
“This is a complex office,” Cunningham said. “A challenge every day – that’s what makes it so exciting.”
The candidates are expected to face off at two League of Women Voters forums, one at 6:30 p.m. March 7 at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove St., Elgin, and one at 7 p.m. March 8 at the Batavia City Hall, 100 N. Island Ave., Batavia.