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Forum responses show how Republican candidates for county treasurer differ

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[January 27, 2010]  The event hosted by Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce was called a candidate forum, not a debate. On Tuesday evening five Republican candidates running for two full-time county office positions presented themselves and gave short, timed responses to questions.

Both the Logan County treasurer and the circuit clerk positions are coming open on Dec. 1, following departures of multi-term officeholders. Carla Bender, former circuit clerk, was called to a state position several months ago. In the same time frame, Mary Ellen Bruns, county treasurer, announced that she would retire at the conclusion of her current term.

Candidates for treasurer are Chuck Conzo and Vicki Dugan. Seeking the circuit clerk's position are Mary Kelley, Suzann Maxheimer and Rachel Bunner.

All candidates spent their allotted time telling 75 voters why they were the choice for the office they were seeking, without a single disparaging remark directed toward another candidate.

Opening statements from treasurer candidates

In the treasurer's race, Dugan made mention several times in her remarks and when answering questions that she has been endorsed by Bruns, the retiring treasurer. Dugan concentrated on explaining that Bruns runs an efficient and public-friendly office, and Dugan intends to carry on in that same manner. She stressed that currently working in the office gives her a firsthand knowledge on how Bruns runs the office, including payroll and the complex computer system used by the office.

Conzo said that he has prepared himself for the treasurer's position his entire career. He noted his 25 years of service with the state of Illinois, most recently 17 as regional manager with the Illinois Lottery. And he has served on several local commissions: the city's Civil Service Commission, the Heritage Days Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Bi-Centennial Commission. Conzo said he will work very hard to learn the office, with persistence being one of his strongest traits.

Current issues

When asked about present concerns in the office, Dugan said to keep everything going as well as Mary Ellen Bruns did, as the office is very efficient, with very little waste.

Conzo said the concerns are the same as the county in these difficult economic times, and to make sure the office is running in the most efficient manner.

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When asked what their priorities would be, Conzo said service to the public was first. He said it is important to organize around a problem and solve the problem. He cited that when the state is confronted by an issue, it does a little here and a little there but doesn't really resolve the problem. He would devote all his attention to the most important problem at hand until it is solved.

Dugan also said serving the public was her first priority. She mentioned that at the treasurer's office no one waits in line. She talked about how the John A. Logan annex allows the public to get office assistance easier than coming into the courthouse. Dugan also said accuracy and accountability to the Logan County Board by giving them the best, most accurate and detailed information possible was another priority of hers.

Hard financial times

The candidates were asked what they would do to assist a county that is struggling financially.

Conzo said that although the budget is defined by the board, the treasurer can be a voice and should speak out. He also added he believes that as treasurer he should be involved with efforts to revitalize the downtown and help promote tourism.

Dugan said it was important that the office maintain what they already have. She added that she believes we can't afford any more taxes and need to make the most of every dollar.

In summary

The two saw their public role a bit differently. When asked what they will do to produce the best possible services coming from the office, Conzo said he planned to use all local media as well as the treasurer's Web site to make sure the community is as informed as possible about what is happening.

Dugan said that the current availability and full disclosure of information is already available to the public. "If it's not broke, don't fix it," she said.

In closing remarks Dugan said she will work very hard to fill the shoes of Mary Ellen Bruns if elected.

Conzo said he agreed the office runs efficiently, but there could be things added. "There is always room for improvement," he said.


The general primary election is Tuesday, Feb. 2.

For more information on the election and candidates, see the Where They Stand section below Top Stories. There you will find candidate positions.

Find additional election-related information in Where They Stand and see candidate support letters.

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