Winnebago County Treasurer's race has two candidates for the first time this century


The office of Winnebago County Treasurer has been held without opposition since 1999. But now, incumbent Sue Goral of Caledonia has been challenged by Steve Schultz of Roscoe.

Goral does not have a campaign website, nor has she responded to questionnaires from websites such as BallotReady or the Illinois Voters Guide, making Rockton-Roscoe News one of the main sources of information about her.

Goral began working in the Treasurers office in 1976. She was appointed treasurer in 1999, then has run unopposed for reelection every four years since then.

Schultz currently represents District 3 on the Winnebago County Board. Previously he managed Converge Cornerstone Fund, now merged with Wesleyan Investment Foundation, for Converge, a Baptist denomination that represents 1,500 churches across the country. The value of his funds increased from $47 to $540 million during his 32-year career.

Goral explained the Treasurer's job to us: "The taxing districts submit their levy to the county clerk's office for all the needs they have in running their districts efficiently. This amount makes up the tax bill total. This office collects the funds and distributes to the taxing districts throughout the year... We understand that taxes are high in Winnebago, and the County Treasurer cannot do anything about lowering or raising tax bill amounts."

But Schultz argues that the County Treasurer can do one thing more. He says Winnebago County would need fewer tax increases if Goral was better at the other part of her job: investing the County's money. He claims, "Our Treasurer’s investments are currently earning only about $75 thousand a year. That number should be $4 million a year."

Schultz calculates that if Winnebago County invests $100 million for two years at the US Treasury interest rate of 4.3%, "our potential investment income is at least $4,300,000/year." The County's 2021 financial report [PDF] shows total governmental fund balances of $128,972,287, but not all of that is available for investment.

Both campaigns have fairly low budgets. Goral's last campaign contribution was in 2006, from Friends of Greg Tuite, and according to her latest filing, had a little more than $3 in her campaign fund. Schultz received a $2,700 contribution from realtor Frank Gambino and a $1,000 contribution from Citizens for Tyler Crosby, as well as smaller gifts.

Goral is running as a Democrat, while Schultz is running as a Republican. Schultz's endorsements includes a long list of local and state Republican leaders.  Other endorsements: Illinois Right to Life Action [PDF] lists Schultz as a "pro-life candidate," along with County Board member Brad Lindmark.

A previous version of this story said that Winnebago County board member Burt Gurl, who endorsed Schultz, was a Democrat. Gurl ran for County Board Chairman as a Democrat, but he joined the Republican party in November 2020 after losing that election. However, the official County Board Members web page lists him as a Democrat. We are asking the County webmaster to correct that.

The general election is Nov. 8, 2022. Early voting is available in-person at the Winnebago County Administration Building, 404 Elm St. 4th Floor, Rockford. You can also request to vote by mail or vote at your local polling place on Election Day. You can learn more about candidates by reading The Illinois Voters Guide, published by the League of Women Voters. You can look up your polling place online.

In January, we asked each candidate to tell us more about themselves.

Sue Goral

I enjoy working and helping the taxpayers of Winnebago County with any problems or issues they may have with their taxes. I am available by walking into our office directly, phone calls and email. I have a terrific staff that assist taxpayers in any way possible.... Anything this office can do to explain or assist the taxpayer in understanding their tax bill we do, as customer service is our number one priority.

We have made many improvements in the Treasurer's office with email reminders, online check and credit card payments and have also installed a dropbox in the front of the Administration building for drop off service. I am always searching for better ways to serve the taxpayers while still maintaining the highest integrity of the office.

Steve Schultz

I have a Bachelor of Arts in business with an emphasis in accounting and finance.

  • Passed the CPA exam.
  • MBA from Northern Illinois University. 13+ years on the Winnebago County Board and Finance Committee.
  • Successfully led nonprofit financial institutions for 32 years.

After taking early retirement, I was approached by Paul Arena and Joe Chiarelli to run for the Treasurer position. I believe my education and experience position me well to fulfill the duties of the office and bring helpful improvements.

If elected, I hope to improve the investment returns on county funds.

  • Bring best practice methods and tools to the office.
  • Improve the taxpayer experience when interacting with the office.
  • Make it easier for people to pay their real estate taxes.

I’m humbled and grateful for the tremendous response I have received from other elected officials, my County Board constituency, and other Winnebago County citizens when they have found out about my candidacy for this office. I will do my best to honor their confidence in me if elected to this position.

As a member of the Winnebago County Board, Schultz has been criticized for opposing a tax increase to fund River Bluff Nursing Home after 62% of voters approved it in June. Schultz, who has served on the board's finance committee for 13 years, joined other Republicans in voting to delay the increase for at least a year. According to the Rockford Register-Star, Schultz and fellow Republican board members Burt Gerl and Keith McDonald said the tax increase wasn't necessary after all because sales tax revenues had been higher than expected - and so is inflation. Winnebago County has owned the facility since 1853.

Goral was in the news in May after thinking she was wiring $100,000 to County Board Chairman Joe Chiarelli to pay county expenses, only to discover that she had unintentionally sent the money to a con artist in another country. According to the Rockford Register-Star, the bank was able to stop one of three payments for about $40,000, but not the other two, and the FBI was investigating the loss of more than $70,000. "I hope the FBI can get our money back, and just feel bad that this happened to the county," Goral told WIFR ."And it won't happen again."

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