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Guest Column: Who is really running?

March 7, 2012

Photo by Nichole Larison Sammon

By Nichole Larison Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision Resident

In these election times, when big money has the ability to buy much of the story we hear, it is important to understand the backers of each candidate. These big-money backers offer support through campaign contributions, land for large marketing signs, and office space. They have the ability to change an election simply by allowing a candidate to get their name out. Name recognition is considered an important factor in elections, as candidates with low name recognition are unlikely to receive votes from people who only casually follow politics.

From the street level, driving around Winnebago County, it is easy to see who supports each candidate by the yard sign locations. Each candidate must get permission from the land owner to place a campaign sign on their land. Take note of the largest of these signs and their locations. Note the land owner and how many times this is the case.

For those of us who want to dig deeper to understand whom the candidate might owe a favor or two or might heavily lean toward in hard decisions, Illinois offers an online-accessible database searchable by candidate. Scott Christiansen’s campaign contributions offer a glimpse into who might really be running for Winnebago County chairman.

The following have contributed to Scott Christiansen’s 2012 re-election campaign: Northwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council with members Rockford Blacktop Company and William Charles Ltd. gave $32,500. Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association with Directors Ben Holmstrom and Nathan Howard of William Charles Ltd. gave $7,950. William Charles Ltd. and subsidiaries gave $6,000. William Charles Ltd. law firms gave $9,350. William Charles Ltd. executives Ben Holmstrom and William Howard gave $1,200.

NOW, remember the big political issues from the last year or so; remember these? First, the potential blows of huge wind turbine development landed, ready to industrialize our agricultural and natural areas, threaten our health and environment, and approved by the labor-intimidated, rubber-stamping Zoning Board of Appeals (they pretty much let the wind company write their own ordinance); and then, the wind ordinance finally passed because of the pressure of union construction workers paid to stand in the courageous county board room during the vote — jobs at all costs! Second, after we had more outrageous, rubber-stamping ZBA hearings (they violated the Open Meetings Act — still no action from the Illinois Attorney General), the chairman and the county board ignored all of the taxpayers in the Fox Ridge Subdivision and instead bowed and scraped to William Charles and Big Ben Holmstrom to ruin our lives, property values and neighborhood with the asphalt plant on our busiest commercial street, East State — right at the tollway ramp.

Third, after another series of hearing “for show only,” the expansion of Pagel Pit right up to the west side of I-39 (halting all future, REAL commercial development there) to accept Chicago’s garbage at a super-low rate, maxing out OUR landfill — hey, we can put “CHICAGO’S GARBAGE PIT” on all of our county tourism brochures!

Will money buy this election? Will the campaign contributions persuade future important Winnebago County decisions and votes? Time will tell on both of these questions. Illinois makes it easy for you to understand for yourself the magnitude of money given to each candidate. Visit www.elections.il.gov. Remember to vote March 20.

Editor & Publisher Frank Schier contributed to this guest column.

From the March 7-13, 2012, issue

One Comment

  1. Jerry Bohumolski

    March 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Keep up the good work, Nichole. If you and your investigative team continue to uncover all the politicians who are owned by special interests and continue to publicize their dirty little secrets, maybe in the foreseeable future we can finally have a county board to be proud of. Unfortunately, I fear those same special interests will remain in the background with their open ended offers available to any politician willing to compromise their values.

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