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Klinkhamer, Lauzen disagree  at forum — but respectfully

Republican Chris Lauzen DemocrSue Klinkhamer candidates for Kane County Board chairman debate St. Charles Thursday Oct. 04 2012. | Donnell

Republican Chris Lauzen and Democrat Sue Klinkhamer, the candidates for Kane County Board chairman, debate in St. Charles on Thursday, Oct. 04, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 24, 2012 9:06PM

ST. CHARLES — Nine months ago in the same room, the first Kane County Board chairman debate started with the Republicans verbally attacking each other.

But with the primary battles over, there was less sizzle and more substance Thursday afternoon at the first debate between Democrat Sue Klinkhamer and Republican Chris Lauzen.

Lauzen and Klinkhamer are hoping to replace two-term Chairman Karen McConnaughay, who is now the Republican nominee for the 33rd State Senate seat. Lauzen, of Aurora, has been the state senator in the 25th District since 1992. Klinkhamer was mayor of St. Charles from 1997 through 2005, then worked for former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, both Democrats.

At Thursday’s forum, hosted by three local chambers of commerce, both candidates reinforced their view of how the county should run.

Lauzen again promised to stop pay-to-play and freeze the county’s tax levy, which he says unfairly outpaced the county’s growth and cost-of-living increases. Lauzen has not targeted any specific items in the budget that he would trim, but pledged to see what best practices are working in other counties.

Lauzen said he would look for overlapping taxing districts that could be eliminated or township work that could be more efficiently handled by the county.

“The list is long and juicy for potential savings,” Lauzen said.

Klinkhamer said she would work to cut the County Board from 24 to 18 members and reduce the chairman’s salary by $25,000.

She would use some of that money to hire a county administrator. Klinkhamer believes a non-political administrator would eliminate some of the fights with county officials that have plagued the county, and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Klinkhamer charged the county has become a political machine more than a government organization. Klinkhamer, who is not raising any money in the campaign, said donations play too big of a role in politics.

“Let’s let voters decide, not money,” she said.

Klinkhamer suggested elected officials and board members are paid too much.

Lauzen promised that one his first priorities if elected would be to give raises to county employees who have faced pay freezes for multiple years. Lauzen said the savings from the pay freeze are lost when employees leave for other counties.

“We are going to have to find streamlining in other places,” he said.

Lauzen also proposed a two-year moratorium on the road-impact fee that he says is stifling development.

The candidates did not give specific plans for Settler’s Hill, the former landfill site. Klinkhamer said she’d like to see the site used for recreational activities that fit in with the forest preserve. Lauzen said he has no grand vision for the site, but questioned why the county would build entertainment venues that compete with private business.

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