Will County races feature some familiar faces
FROM STAFF REPORTS October 26, 2012 5:22PM
Will County Coroner Patrick K. O'Neil
Updated: December 1, 2012 6:03AM
While the Will County executive and state’s attorney’s races are considered the most contentious, a wide range of candidates is vying for four other county-wide offices.
Both the coroner and recorder of deeds races feature rematches between the candidates from four years ago. Coroner Patrick K. O’Neil wants to extend his run as the longest serving Democrat in countywide office, while Republican candidates Marlene Carlson (circuit clerk) and Mark Batinick (auditor) are facing their first tries for elected positions.
Pamela “Pam” McGuire (Democrat)
A resident of Joliet, McGuire is currently serving her fourth term as circuit clerk and has collected more than $13 million in fines and restitution from people who ignored court orders.
During her current term, McGuire has expanded credit card use at the courthouse payment windows, online filing for civil cases and electronic traffic tickets issued by local police departments.
She’s pledged her office will continue updating technology “utilizing court user fees, not tax dollars” for the courts and police to operate more efficiently.
Marlene Carlson (Republican)
The New Lenox resident, computer engineer and small business owner is a political novice, but Carlson believes her technical and managerial background makes her a better candidate.
“The current clerk’s complacency with the status quo system in this critical era of technology is unacceptable,” Carlson said. “The modern day office is no place for the ‘career politician.’”
Carlson would develop a website to handle a majority of court business to reduce visits to the courthouse — including filing orders of protection and paying traffic tickets and court fees. She believes her 17 years working in private computer systems management could reduce the expenses spent on outside consultants.
Recorder of Deeds
Karen A. Stukel (Democrat)
Stukel, of Channahon, is completing her first term as recorder of deeds. She believes cross-training her staff has made the office more efficient and cut expenses by reducing management positions.
Stukel has also been working to educate veterans on the importance of recording their military discharge papers.
Her next goal is implementing a new Land Records system that allows electronic recording to reduce postage costs, protect against fraud and stay environmentally-friendly.
“When (I) took office there was a five-day turnaround for receiving your recorded document back. Documents are now returned in 3 days,” she said. “The goal with the new system will be to return documents the same day after recording for any walk-in customers.”
Stukel also plans to continue recording the county’s historical documents and open an additional eastern satellite office in Beecher.
Laurie McPhillips (Republican)
McPhillips, of Plainfield, served a term as recorder before being defeated by Stukel four years ago.
“Having been a licensed Realtor, property manager and currently a broker for the past 20 years, I deal with property land records on a daily basis and ‘get it,’” she said. “The average resident may not visit the recorder’s office, but when you sell your home, it is critical that those records are accurate, complete and indexed properly.”
During her previous term McPhillips replaced the computer system and opened a satellite office in Bolingbrook. If elected, she would also open an office in eastern Will County and feels more can be done to restrict your private information from public viewing.
Duffy Blackburn (Democrat)
The Joliet resident has served one term and was named the state’s 2011 County Auditor of the Year. Since taking office, Blackburn, a certified public accountant and with a master’s degree in business administration, has received awards for transparency and accountability to taxpayers. He has also cut his office’s operating costs by 38 percent and prepares Will County’s annual financial report in-house.
If re-elected, Blackburn plans to continue auditing county funds and assets and monitoring for fraud and waste of tax dollars.
He will also continue an internship program that gives local accounting students auditing experience while augmenting his paid staff.
Mark Batinick (Republican)
Batinick, a Plainfield resident and small-business owner, holds a degree in business education and is a state-certified accounting teacher.
Besides working in commercial real estate and business consulting, Batinick said has been “a watchdog” with citizens groups to bring transparency, “exposing waste and fraud in both local and state governments.”
“I want to be a full-time advocate for the taxpayer,” Batinick said.
One of Batinick’s biggest concerns is that “Will Colony” is being used by the political machines in Cook County and Springfield.
Before the Revolutionary War, people were taxed without representation and local politicians were merely figureheads who owed their loyalty to the king, Batinick said. “Now I don’t have to wonder (what that’s like) anymore,” he said.
Patrick K. O’Neil (Democrat)
O’Neil, of Lockport, has been coroner since 1992 and estimates he has supervised more than 50,000 death investigations.
O’Neil helped establish guidelines for forensic autopsies and determining the manner of death for the state Coroners and Medical Examiners Association. During his most recent term he assigned two part-time investigators to a cold case squad to identify the 11 unknown skeletons and remains that have been found in the county over the last 40 years.
He also received the 2011 Lifesaving Award from Gift of Hope for promoting organ and tissue donation.
Charles Lyons (Republican)
Lyons is a former deputy coroner who challenged O’Neil four years ago. The licensed funeral director and embalmer lives in Channahon, where he served on the village board, school board and fire department.
He pledges to be “a working coroner” who will go to every death scene he can. He believes one of the most important things the coroner’s staff needs is additional training, including training on grief counseling.
Lyons would also like to offer more programs to educate children about the potentially fatal dangers of gangs, drugs, guns and alcohol.