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Hola es su centro para mantenerse informado, compartir ideas y conectarse con recursos. (Hola is your hub to stay informed, share ideas, and connect with resources in northern Illinois.)

Here's a look at the competitive local races in the primary election for Stephenson County

Here's a look down the primary ballot at contested races in Stephenson County. There’s no contested race on the Republican ballot and so the focus is on the Democratic ballot.

District F

Robin K. Rosenstiel and Wanona Wellspring Ceisel are the listed candidates.

The winner will go up against incumbent Republican Larry Jogerst who has held the seat since 2020.

The Stephenson County Democrats are providing financial support to Rosenstiel’s candidacy.

Jody Coss, chair of the Stephenson County Democrats, said she’s optimistic about Rosenstiel’s campaign.

“It is a rural district; it tends to go to Republican," Coss said, "and it seems like Robin Rosenstiel has a lot of support in that area."

Rosenstiel is an advocate for the county maintaining ownership of the county’s nursing home, Walnut Acres. On the party’s website, the other issues that are important for her are government transparency, accountability, and community and economic development.

Rosenstiel is employed with Pratt and Whitney, an aerospace company where she works with suppliers.

The other candidate, Wellspring Ceisel, said her main issues are improving roads and internet connectivity. She’s licensed in naprapathy and is owner of Spring Creek Holistic Health. She tells WNIJ she had recently had to take a break from campaigning as she recovers from illness.

District B

Incumbent Ronnie Bush is running against Alana R. Paige.

There’s not a Republican candidate running for the position, which is considered a safe Democratic seat.

Ronnie Bush has held the seat since 2016 and previously was a Freeport Alderman. He’s a retiree of Kelly/Spring Tire Company and is a school bus driver.

He sits on the nursing center committee and is a vocal supporter of the publicly funded nursing home.

WNIJ wasn’t able to reach Paige to learn about her candidacy.

The Democratic party is supporting Bush’s campaign financially. Coss said the party doesn’t endorse candidates but will provide dollars and resources to those who've met the agreements in a timely manner.

“We have to spend our money wisely,” Coss said, “and so, the Executive Council met, and a decision was made to use our resources towards people that we thought had a viable campaign.”

She said the council’s decision received unanimous support from the party’s central committee.

Walnut Acres

Coss said one of the main issues facing the county is the future of the publicly owned nursing home, Walnut Acres. The county chair Republican Scott Helms is leading a push to privatize the home. Jogerst is among those in favor of selling the facility.

“It's a public nursing home, it's been in our county for well over 100 years," she said. “And we would like to be sure that we have a safe number of Democrats so that they do not keep trying to sell it.”

Why primaries matter

Countywide races up for election are state’s attorney, circuit clerk and coroner. They're all held by Republicans and the candidates won’t face a Democratic challenger in the fall.

Sharon Koch of the League of Women Voters of Freeport said for races that are uncontested, it still matters for voters to pay attention.

“Those who are in office already and are unopposed or who are running unopposed need the challenge of having, having to speak to the voters and articulate our policies and issues,” Koch said. “It's good for everyone, it's good for the voters and it's good for the candidate."

The league held a candidate meet and greet in January that gave voters a chance to hear from candidates directly.

“We are concerned always, with increasing awareness, and participation in democracy," she said. "That is the only way it works.”

Koch said not all candidates showed up, but there was representation from both parties.

The League is nonpartisan and plans on holding candidate events in the fall leading up to the general election.

The last day to vote in the primaries is March 19.

For more election coverage, click here.

Corrected: March 5, 2024 at 11:13 AM CST
An earlier version of this story misidentified Stephenson County Democratic Party chair Jody Coss. WNIJ regrets the error.
A Chicago native, Maria earned a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield . Maria is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America. RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Un residente nativo de Chicago, Maria se graduó de University of Illinois Springfield con una licenciatura superior en periodismo de gobierno.