Althoff resigns state Senate for McHenry County Board seat

By Gregory Harutunian for Chronicle Media

Pamela Althoff

State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-32nd) is set for a return to McHenry County on a full-time basis, after announcing her resignation from the state legislature in advance of the Nov. 6 general election and an assured seat as the District 4 representative on the County Board. Her resignation takes effect Sept. 30, and ends a distinguished career in representing the district since her appointment in 2003, and currently serves as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair.

The resignation was announced Aug. 31 in a press release, and originally intended to remove any “inappropriate appearance” of using the Senate seat as a campaign wedge for the County Board seat. In a subsequent turn, the District 4 Democratic candidate, Kathy Adams, withdrew her nomination petitions, leaving incumbent District 4 member Chuck Wheeler and Althoff, both Republicans, as the only candidates on the ballot. Voters must pick two representatives on the ballot.

“It was kind of in the works (her resignation), and did not want the appearance of running for the District 4 county seat, while still using my Senate seat,” said Althoff, when contacted. “About four days afterwards, the Democratic candidate dropped out of the race. I will be attending more County Board meetings from here on in order to educate myself on the priorities of the board.

“One extraordinary issue is government reduction, and hopefully, I’m a voice that people are comfortable with, to dispel misinformation and confront the inefficiency,” she said. “I’ll be home, I will be here, and available … it’s a better opportunity. When you’re traveling back and forth to Springfield for Senate duties, it’s difficult for the constituency. It’s funny that as a state Senator, I received phone calls on county issues because I am the appropriate party at the state level. Now, it will receive full attention.”

A former special education teacher, Althoff’s ties to the area were centered in the city of McHenry, serving as its city clerk (1994-2001), and mayor (2001-03.)

The McHenry County Republican Party will choose a successor replacement for finish out her two-year senate term, from the election win in 2016. However, the formal Nov. 6 ballot will have two names for the position: McHenry Township Assessor Mary Mahady, a Democrat, and McHenry County Board member Craig Wilcox, a Republican.

Althoff’s time in the Senate was marked by key bill sponsorships and working across the aisle in bi-partisan efforts. Two key pieces were the Government Transparency Task Force, which became a public act in August 2013.

“The Government Accountability and Transparency Act is a solid piece of legislation, and is now the template used by the state for transparency in how you account for the dollars, and evaluating if you used those dollars appropriately,” she said. “I’m very proud of that program, and others are coming to Illinois to learn about it.”

According to the state website, GATA’s purpose is “to provide for the development of a coordinated, non-redundant process, for the provision of effective and efficient oversight of the selection and monitoring grant recipients, ensuring quality programs limiting fraud, waste and abuse, and defining the purpose, scope, applicability and responsibilities in the life cycle of a grant.”

Althoff also said, “I’m also proud of the last capital improvements bill, which brought funding to the McHenry County-area projects. I worked with state Rep. Mike Tryon (R-64th), Jack Franks, while a state representative (R-63rd) in collaboration to make sure the county got its fair share. The bill included the widening of Route 14, and the I-90 overpass.”

Her press release noted that the transition “though bittersweet is what is best for me and the 32nd District.”

District 4 includes Richmond, Spring Grove, McHenry, Ringwood, McCullom Lake, Johnsburg, and parts of Fox Lake, Bull Valley, and Greenwood, along with several unincorporated areas of McHenry County.