DeKALB – The number of contested races for the DeKalb County Board went from four to six after Democrats and Republicans caucused in three candidates.
Republican Kevin Bunge of Clare and Democrat Joanne Pickering of Sycamore will face off for one of two seats representing District 1 on the County Board. Republicans also selected Dianne Leifheit of DeKalb to run against Christopher Portfield in District 8.
The District 1 seat is up for grabs because Charles Foster, a Shabonna Republican elected in 2012, is not seeking re-election. Republican Julia Fullerton is not seeking re-election in District 8.
Party leaders had until June 2 to select candidates for board races to be placed on the November ballot in races that were uncontested after the March primary.
This will be the first run for office for Pickering, 53. A rural Sycamore resident since 2006, she works as an environmental protection specialist for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She also volunteers as an advocate for the Court Appointed Special Advocates in DeKalb County.
Her prior experience includes working in DNA and RNA testing for a private health care facility. She served as a medical tech in the Navy from 1985 to 1992.
“I’ve always been one to serve my country and do service,” Pickering said. “A lot of people bellyache and I thought I’ll be the one to find a solution.”
Bunge, 51, has lived in Clare for 27 years. He has owned an engineering and surveying company, CES Inc., since he started it in 1992. Other than work, he helps with some programs and athletics at Sycamore School District 427, where two of his four sons still go to school.
Also new to running for office, he believes his skills would be a match for serving in office.
“I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while, for no other reason than to do my part really,” Bunge said.
Political newcomer Leifheit, 70, is retired after working in accounts receivable at Northern Illinois University. Before that, she served as general manager for DeKalb Radio Studios. She has lived in DeKalb County her entire life, with the past 20 years in District 8.
“Some people approached me about running and I thought, yeah, I have the time now,” Leifheit said.
Finding caucus candidates often comes down to time, said DeKalb County Republican Chairman Steve Kuhn. He also hoped to have four more candidates to fill the uncontested County Board races in districts 5, 6, 7 and 10, but potential candidates had schedule conflicts.
“We tried really hard to find the right candidates and we had really good candidates, but the timing wasn’t right,” Kuhn said.
He was glad to find candidates, but said he would rather have candidates in place by the primary rather than have to caucus them onto the ballot.
The same was true for Democrats in the uncontested races in districts 11 and 12, said DeKalb County Democratic Chairman Mark Pietrowski.
“We don’t want to force anyone,” Pietrowski said. “You want to find the right candidate for the district.”