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Two Lake County Board candidates, one from each party, face their pasts as election nears

One Lake County Board candidate is being called out for financial crime charges she faced in the past, while another candidate has acknowledged a “dark path” involving arrests he attributes to an opiate addiction.

The scenarios are playing out on opposite geographic and political ends of Lake County.

The candidacy of Kim Lynch, a Republican from Hawthorn Woods, in District 18 is being questioned by the Lake County Democrats organization. And in District 1, Wadsworth resident and Democratic candidate Brian Hayden says his substance abuse resulted in several arrests in Lake and Cook counties and Wisconsin dating back 20 years.

Lynch was a Hawthorn Woods trustee from 2002 to 2007 before being appointed director of the village’s parks and recreation department by former Mayor Keith Hunt.

In 2011, after Hunt’s tenure as mayor ended, the village began investigating Lynch over a contract to rent village soccer fields. During the investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Lynch on two counts of felony forgery. The charges were dropped after just two months, but eventually Lynch was demoted and fired.

Lynch and her attorney, former mayor Hunt, then filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was fired because of her loyalties to the previous administration. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2013.

When asked to comment Friday, Lynch demurred.

“I want to minimize the issue,” Lynch said. “There was a lawsuit filed, there were allegations within the lawsuit and the lawsuit has been dismissed, so that is all I have to say on the subject.”

Lynch is facing Democrat Sara Knizhnik, a Vernon Township trustee. Knizhnik said county board members “must be above reproach as they direct hundreds of employees and allocate hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Hayden said he was injured on the job and prescribed opiates for pain and became addicted. He turned to street narcotics when his doctor stopped prescribing medication, he said.

“This led me down a dark path in my life,” he said. “I did many things out of character for me and alarmed everyone who knew me.”

Hayden said he is in long-term recovery but hesitated to run for the county board because of his background.

Over the years, Hayden has faced numerous traffic and other charges, including possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, bail jumping, probation violations and retail theft. All cases have been closed, he said.

Hayden is facing incumbent Linda Pedersen, who has held the position for 14 years.

She said she is aware of Hayden’s situation but declined to comment and is running on her record.

The self-employed handyman said the arrests were all for “fairly low-level” offenses. He said a 2017 arrest in Cook County for retail theft was a wake-up call, and in March he marked five years in recovery.

“That part is behind me and I’m moving on,” he said.

Hayden said he felt “a calling to run for this office so I can make a difference in the lives of so many.” He said addressing the opioid epidemic is one of his top priorities.

“I understand, as many people can’t, what is actually needed to address the opioid crisis that is devastating our county,” he said. “I hope my story impacts others who may be struggling.”

Lake County Republican Party Chairman Keith Brin said the two circumstances are “entirely different situations.”

Lynch’s charges were dismissed, he said, while Hayden faced more than 30 charges, some of which he was convicted on.

District 1 covers all or parts of Antioch, Lindenhurst, Old Mill Creek and Wadsworth.

District 18 includes all or parts of Buffalo Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Lake Zurich, Lincolnshire and Long Grove in southern Lake County, and is one of two county board districts in which an incumbent doesn’t live.

Districts were redrawn as required by state law after the decennial census and the number reduced from 21 to 19 for the Nov. 8 election.

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