The applause and standing ovation for three-term Kane County Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit was long, sustained and sincere Tuesday, as Hoscheit stepped down after 12 years and Michael Kenyon was elected to succeed him in a vote by Forest Preserve District commissioners.
Kane County Board Vice Chairman Drew Frasz praised Hoscheit for what he said was, as far as he is concerned, “an absolutely perfect tenure.”
“You’re a tough act to follow,” Frasz said. “The vast majority of us on the County Board only know John as president. Over the course of his term, he has saved taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, (added) thousands of acres of Forest Preserve land and taken every one of those late-night calls. I just want to say thank you, on behalf of Kane County.”
Jesse Vasquez of the Aurora/Montgomery District 8 offered similar praise.
“Your dedication to the Forest Preserve District has been second to none,” he said.
Kenyon, of South Elgin, was elected by a ballot of Kane County Forest Preserve District commissioners in a dramatic, three-way contest over Phil Lewis of St. Charles and Barb Wojnicki of rural St. Charles.
Each candidate was given the opportunity to address the board. Lewis offered his talents in engineering, leadership and technology and emphasized transparency, as well as the “congenial, nonpartisan and nonpolitical” aspects of Forest Preserve District stewardship. Wojnicki said she would be a “strong leader” and pointed to her 16 years of County Board experience that includes membership in the Land Evaluation and Site Assessment Committee, president pro tem of the Forest Preserve District as well as member of its Executive Committee and Planning and Utilization Committee. Kenyon, a fourth-generation farmer, talked about how proud he is to be one of the first farmers to sell parts of his land for Forest Preserve property, underlined his service to the community and promised to make sure all members of the Forest Preserve Commission have a voice.
“Remember, you still run the organization,” he said. “You will tell the chairman what to do.”
The vote totals for each candidate were not announced. However, the full commission voted unanimously to ratify Kenyon’s nomination.
Before taking his seat as chairman, Kenyon presented Hoscheit with a plaque featuring an image of the Brunner Family Forest Preserve, a 741-acre property acquired in 2008 that was a 20-year goal for the district and some of the highest quality, unprotected habitat in the county.