Big Names Involved In Tiny Township Race

By Jeff Muniz

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:19 PM CDT

A battle over a street turns into a battle at the ballot box on Tuesday. That's what's happened in a tiny township road commissioner race in Peoria County.

Kate Smart is walking down the road that drove her into politics...literally.

"I just had some struggles with the township when I tried to build a road and put a house on our farm," Smart says.

"These are files for six other roads in our township right here. And, this is just the file on her road. Her file is 4 times the width," Current Kickapoo Township Road Commissioner Dan Kelch says as he shows us the paperwork.

Kelch says Mount Carmel Way is substandard to be taken over by Kickapoo Township in Peoria County. He's taken care of the township's roads and bridges for 24 years now.

"What they tell me is our snow removal is second to none. I stay within our budget and I look after their best interest as taxpayers. And, sometimes people don't like what I say but I follow guidelines," Kelch says.

Kate Smart contends the township is tough to deal with after spending thousands of dollars to build the half-mile road to her house.

"The real reason I'm running is I see a need for change. The people I've talked to in the township and anyone who has moved in over the past 10 years has had the same difficulties that I've had getting permits, getting phone calls returned," Smart says.

While voters may see Smart's name on signs, they won't see her on the ballot. She's only a write-in candidate. But, she has the backing of a previous write-in winner, Aaron Schock.

"I called Aaron and said what do you recommend that I do. How did you win as a write-in. How do you let people know that I exist. And, he just told me everything he did," Smart says.

By comparison, Dan Kelch says he has the backing of former State Senator George Shadid and numerous local leaders. Still, this is the first time Kelch has had a challenger since 1989.

"Down the road you think there will be somebody, but under these circumstances they're doing a smear campaign against me," Kelch says.

It's also the first time Kelch has actually had to put up campaign signs;
by in large due to an opponent who's truly campaigning for the first time.

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