Tom Kacich: Plenty of GOP interest in recorder's post

Tom Kacich: Plenty of GOP interest in recorder's post

It looks like Republicans will have as many as five candidates to succeed Barb Frasca in the $93,000 a year position as Champaign County recorder of deeds.

Frasca announced last year that she wouldn't run for a sixth term in November 2016, and former county board member Stephanie Holderfield was the first to mention running for the position. Earlier this week Holderfield said she's "still interested."

But now she has company: former county clerk Mark Shelden; past state representative and Urbana mayoral contender Rex Bradfield; Sherry Janeski, who has worked with Frasca in the recorder's office for about 11 years; and restaurateur Rob Meister, who also is considering running for state senator.

It could make for a crowded primary race next March.

So far there are no Democrats interested in the office, said Democratic Party Chairman Al Klein.

Shelden said he's "likely" a candidate, and would seek to return to the Brookens Administrative Center where he was county clerk from 1997 to 2010. He resigned from the position shortly after winning another term in order to become chief of staff to then-U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana. But Johnson stayed in office only two more years, and Shelden was left without a job. Since that time he's been doing political and information technology consulting.

"Certainly when you step out of public office it's always in your mind that you may run again. When I heard that Barb was going to retire I approached her and told her I might have some interest and I wanted to know what the office was like. I knew a lot but I wanted to hear more from her, so we had a good conversation," Shelden said.

About three weeks ago, he said he talked to Frasca in greater depth about the office.

"I have some other ideas about things that she's been working on, in terms of technology within the office," he said. "I'm excited about being a candidate again. I know I still have supporters out there, people who would like to see me run.

"It's an open seat and I would not discourage anyone who is interested in running and interested in the office. I think the Republican Party is at its best when we have good people putting their names forward to run for office."

Bradfield, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Urbana in 2009 and 2013, and for state representative in 2006, is a licensed engineer.

"I think I'm 99 and 44/100th percent sure. The reason I'm doing it is that I'm familiar with the office through land surveying. I'm in there most of the time, and a lot of the documents that are in there now are documents I ferreted out from the old courthouse in the basement. And I can answer all the surveying questions they get asked in there."

Janeski, who lives in Fisher, said she initially decided not to run, then changed her mind "and then decided that I'm really not ready to give up. So I'm going to try and move on."

She's never run for political office before, Janeski said.

"I've been here for this many years and now I'm going to try to make a move up for myself," she said.

Meister, who owns a restaurant in Champaign and ran for state representative three years ago, said he's either running for recorder or will be a candidate for the state Senate seat held by Democrat Scott Bennett of Champaign.

Another Republican, Champaign County Board member Jim McGuire of Champaign, said he looked at running for recorder, but decided against it.

Frasca said she will stay neutral in the race to choose her successor.

"I am going to stay out of it, as far out as I can get. I am obliging them if they want to come and spend some time in the office and get a feel for what we do," she said. "It is very important to me that whoever wins wants to be recorder for the right reasons, because they care. After putting what will be 20 years in this office, I would like the person that wins to want to carry on the banner, so to speak. I don't want someone who is looking solely for a political job."

As for the Democrats, chairman Klein said, "If you're interesting in running for political office, you know where to find me. I'm in the phone book and at the Urbana farmer's market every Saturday morning."

Bennett, Brown and Righter take the Rauner money

Three more Republican lawmakers from East Central Illinois have cashed checks from Citizens for Rauner Inc., the political action committee of Gov. Bruce Rauner, which at last count had more than $20 million on hand.

Reps. Adam Brown of Champaign and Tom Bennett of Gibson City, plus Sen. Dale Righter of Mattoon, each reported $8,000 contributions from Rauner. Brown, Bennett and Sens. Bill Brady and Righter have reported taking the campaign contribution from the governor, who last month said he had given $400,000 to Republican lawmakers.

If any other Republicans are going to cash in the Rauner campaign donations, they haven't done it yet.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

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