Woodstock’s sole incumbent along with two active community members held the lead Wednesday in the city council race as unofficial and incomplete results led the group by more than 200 votes.
The most competitive race of all McHenry County municipalities this year, Woodstock had nine candidates vying for three seats. Much of the focus during this year’s election was on development and infrastructure, preserving history while looking to the future and taxes.
Although not final, totals from Tuesday’s election include early voting, mail-in voting and Election Day voting, according to the McHenry County Clerk’s Office website. Late mail ballots and provisional ballots were not included in the total.
About 17,900 mail-in ballots were still outstanding countywide as of Wednesday and could be counted if postmarked by Election Day and received on time, McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said.
The results will be final on April 25.
[ Here are McHenry County’s unofficial election results ]
However, Melissa McMahon, Natalie Zimba and incumbent Darrin Flynn said they were confident Wednesday that the results would hold and each would win a seat on the Woodstock City Council.
It was a lot of work. I’m very excited about it.
— Woodstock City Council candidate Natalie Zimba on Tuesday’s unofficial election results
McMahon, who won the most votes on Wednesday by more than 100 votes with 856, said that while those who supported her expected this result, she did not, calling the experience “very humbling.”
That became clearer when Woodstock Mayor Mike Turner called to congratulate her Tuesday night, she said.
Turner said he called all three front-runners, which according to unofficial results Wednesday morning included Ziemba with 750 and Flynn with 713.
“I’m rooted in the community and people know me,” said McMahon, who is marketing manager for the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce and Real Woodstock, as well as a member of the Woodstock Groundhog Days committee and external vice president of Woodstock Pride. “I just want to keep doing good things at Woodstock.”
Ziemba described her introduction with her tagline, “Respecting History, Embracing Progress,” as well as a robust website, signs “everywhere” and her efforts to get out and shake hands.
“It was a lot of work,” she said. “I’m very excited about it.”
For Flynn, he said he built his campaign on what was accomplished in his first term, with an emphasis on planning for the future. On the campaign trail and on Wednesday, Flynn said he wants to focus on creating the city’s new comprehensive plan, as well as other parks and arts master plans.
Ziemba said one of her priorities is also the city’s comprehensive plan. She also wants to focus on accessibility and communication to keep residents informed. Roads are a “huge priority” for her as well, which she calls “the face of the tiger” because of their rough shape and the cost of repairs.
McMahon wants to see the city prioritize helping businesses along Route 47 cope with the looming expansion project. Helping businesses make that transition and making sure residents can still get in and out is a focus, she said.
I still believe the mentality is tax and spend. … I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, but I’m a little discouraged. But I realize that my voice needs to be heard.
— Woodstock City Council candidate Mark Indijk on Tuesday’s unofficial election results
Meanwhile, many of the other candidates said Wednesday that they see no path to victory at this stage.
The next highest vote total as of Wednesday morning was Bryson Calvin with 503, followed by Joe Starzynski with 476, Mark Indijk with 375, Crystal Squires with 346, Thomas West with 304 and Wendy Barker with 294.
Candidate Mark Indijk said he felt there was a lot of vocal support, but the votes didn’t come. Still, he said, the campaign was “worth the effort.”
With the results, he said he is concerned about the direction of the city. Running on a platform that calls for spending less on certain things, such as project consulting fees, and more on infrastructure, public works and policing, he’s “not optimistic” about where the city is headed.
As someone who often attends City Council meetings, Indijk said he will continue to be vocal.
“I still believe the mentality is tax and spend,” he said. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, but I’m a little discouraged. But I realize that my voice needs to be heard.
Candidates Joe Starzynski, a former City Council member, and Bryson Calvin had a different take.
Starzynski said he’s not disappointed with the outcome and believes the current leaders will make good council members.
“They’re good people,” Starzynski said. “I know them all.”
The diversity at Woodstock is off the charts. … I hope we can see other segments of the population involved.
— Darrin Flynn, Woodstock City Council candidate and incumbent
Calvin said the three would be “a blessing to the city.” However, he said the low turnout was “a shame and a shame”.
Although voter turnout is on track to be higher this year than in 2021, countywide turnout is currently below 12 percent, according to the clerk’s office.
“It’s a shame we didn’t get the turnout we were hoping for,” Calvin said. “But I’m fine with who won.”
Several candidates, including Ziemba, Flynn, Calvin and Starzynski, said if Ziemba and McMahon win seats, they will replace the only two women on the City Council, Lisa Lohmeyer and Wendy Piersol, who chose not to run again this year. This means that the same level of representation as the current board will be maintained.
“The diversity at Woodstock is off the charts,” Flynn said. “I hope we can see other segments of the population participating.”