Candidate’s modeling past comes to front in Kane County campaign
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News October 22, 2012 1:46PM
Kerri Branson is the Democratic candidate for the Kane County Board District 18.
Family: Married, 2 children, ages 22 and 19
Hometown: Blackberry Township
Occupation: Owner of AE Frasz Excavation in Elburn
Previous elected office: Incumbent Kane County Board member, elected in 2008
Family: Married, 4 children, ages 10, 12 and 15-year-old twins
Hometown: North Aurora
Occupation: Artist, graphic designer, president of Creator Gallery
Previous elected office: None
Updated: October 24, 2012 3:29AM
Kerri Branson did not expect that her career as a video game actress and glamour model 20 years ago would be thrust back in the spotlight when she decided to run for a seat on the Kane County Board.
“It has actually been rather funny how my past is blowing up like this,” said Branson, the Democratic challenger in the race for Kane County Board District 18.
Branson, 42, of North Aurora, has been fielding interviews about the Sonya Blade character she portrayed in the Mortal Kombat video game series and her nude, lingerie and swimsuit poses for a dozen Playboy special newsstand magazines in the 1990s to the early 2000s.
“I don’t regret what I did,” Branson said. “I was very successful at it and it brought me to Illinois where I met my husband and have a beautiful family,” said Branson, who hails from Minnesota.
She and her husband have four children — twin sons, 15, who suffer from severe cerebral palsy, a son, 12, and daughter, 10.
Branson said she is running on a platform of special needs services, health programs and farmland preservation.
Branson is challenging incumbent Drew Frasz of Elburn, who likened his successful bid in the 2008 Republican primary against longtime Kane politician Jan Carlson to practically overcoming the “Chicago political machine.”
In this election Frasz, 56, is touting his accomplishments on the Mallard Point drainage project in Sugar Grove, railroad crossing noise abatement for Mill Creek and La Fox, and a new county ethics ordinance, as well as other projects he’d like to see through to completion, and does not talk about his opponent’s past unless he’s asked about it.
“It is a very conservative district,” Frasz said.
Frasz said he thinks voters will have a problem with Branson having posed for an adult magazine and being a character model for an “ultra violent” video game.
“Those are two things people do not allow in their homes that she was involved in,” Frasz said. “I didn’t bring it up even though I knew about this right after she filed. I want to run on the merits of the race.
“I am concerned that there have been about 120 meetings since the primary and she has not been to one of them. I would think three weeks from the election she might want to know something about the job,” he said.
Branson said her modeling career with Playboy was for only about a year. As for her portrayal of the video game “special forces agent” character trying to save the world, she went on a national tour speaking with youth about staying in school, staying off drugs and following their dreams.
“Dressed as the game’s character, the kids really listened and started to get into martial arts, which teaches self-discipline and respecting your elders,” she said.
“I befriended a girl who didn’t feel accepted in her community and was close to taking her life. I told her to embrace who she was and that she was a beautiful person. I don’t think that is bad,” she said.
Branson said she walked away from several jobs as a graphic designer, race director and personal trainer to devote her time to raising her children and caring for her special needs sons, but things are stable for her to serve an elected position.
Branson said she does not want her past to detract from the “real issues.”
“I am glad for the attention — it is letting me speak my voice about special needs, but I don’t want my past to be a distraction,” she said.
Branson said she is in touch with the issues as a mother of special needs children, by what she reads and the people she talks to in her community.
“I don’t want people to try and influence me. I have an honest heart and a perspective on life in how things should be done ethically. My life proves I am not a lazy person. I am a woman and we do multi-task,” she said.