As voting began last week for the general primary election, candidates for Will County Board District 6 sought to express their views on the issues.
There are two open seats in the race, and three Will County residents are campaigning.
On the ballot are Shorewood’s Don Gould, Wilmington’s Joe VanDuyne and Channahon’s Deb Militello.
All candidates running in the March 20 election have experience serving and/or running for a board, committee or council.
Joe VanDuyne, a resident of Wilmington and the lone Democrat in the field, has worked as a union electrician for more than 20 years.
“I’d like to stand up for the people, giving them a voice,” he said. “I want to take next step. I’m a middle-age father of two kids, and the majority of those in District 6 are my demographic. We need a voice on the board. People care about the same things I do.”
VanDuyne often can be found volunteering his time helping the Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community, as well as coaching youth softball and wrestling. VanDuyne said whether it be walking in parades with his wife and kids or dropping off literature and walking house-to house, his family has been very supportive of his campaign.
“I represent what Will County is,” he said. “People can relate to me.
VanDuyne wants the board to stop pandering to the rich.
“The board is controlled by republicans,” he said. “ We need someone to go against the machine.”
VanDuyne said the State of the County is concerning.
“I don’t see them working together as an outsider,” he said. “It seems like party lines are drawn. I don’t believe in voting party lines. We have to do what’s right for the people, and it shouldn’t matter if you’re democrat or republican. We can’t go on party line agendas. I would like to see them work more closely together, and I don’t know how you could get away from that, unless you communicate with the other side of the aisle.”
VanDuyne hopes to help propel forward some county initiatives, if elected to the board.
“I’d like to see infrastructure improvements,” he said. “The southern part of the county gets overlooked. I want to make sure we’re not overlooked. I want to make sure we have a fully staffed health department. Their goal is to promote health, and that’s important to me.”
Debbie Militello, a current representative for Will County Board District 6 and a Republican candidate, is vying for election to one of two seats.
“I want to take my knowledge and experience and bring it to the board,” she said. “I can hit the ground running without having a learning curve.”
Militello served as a trustee for the Village of Channahon until being appointed in 2017 to serve out the remainder of Ragan Freitag’s term.
“I understand budgets with the county board,” she said. “While the Village’s [budget] is smaller, it all runs the same. I understand how it works. I retired from the Treasurer’s Office for Will County, and I saw where the board spent the money.”
Militello recognizes that a lot of people will run for the Will County Board and said what separates her from the pack is that she knows what it takes to affect change.
“I want to serve,” she said. “This is what I want to do. I want to make sure Will County remains a good place to live and work to keep the taxes low.”
Militello said she thinks the board has a proven track record of working together to get things done.
“They work well together,” she said. “We work across the aisle to explain things. As a newcomer, I go to a lot of the committee meetings and when I can’t go, I watch the videos. If an issue is important, we need to discuss this at the committee of the whole. We need to make sure everyone is on board.”
Militello, if elected to the board, has set forth a goal for herself.
“One of my goals is to look at everything as a whole,” he said. “Channahon has a good reputation of working with other communities, like Joliet and Shorewood. A lot of them should look at the big picture. Sometimes you have to get our of your community, so you’re not so involved in your own.”
Don Gould, a current representative for Will County Board District 6 and a Republican candidate, is a long-time resident of Shorewood.
“I’d like to accomplish some goals,” he said. “We’ve made progress.”
Gould said he has a number of accomplishments to be proud of to this point.
“I’m proud of my initiative to create dog parks,” he said. “In Channahon and Shorewood, it’s very popular and very needed. We’ll have a path over Black Road. Those are things I’ve spearheaded.”
Gould wants to see the county’s new health department constructed.
“I’ve been on the board of health, and I care about that,” he said.
Gould recognizes that there are challenges in facing the pressure to develop and said the suburban/rural feel is one of strengths of the communities that make up District. 6.
Gould has experience serving on different committees and boards.
“I’ve been involved in the community,” he said. “I have experience working on the committees for transportation and public works. I’ve served on Forest Preserve District of Will County Board. I’ve been able to a make a difference.”
Some other experiences include serving as a member of the Shorewood Area Chamber of Commerce and as a trustee for Troy Township.
Gould’s family has demonstrated a history of inserting themselves into the political realm.
“My mother as a Will County clerk,” he said. “My father was mayor of Rockdale. They inspired me from a young age.”
The general primary election is March 20. Early voting, vote-by-mail and grace-period voting runs through March 19. Residents can also vote the day of the election at their respective polling place.
For more information on polling locations and hours, visit www.thewillcountyclerk.com