Friday, August 17, 2012
County Board Nixes At-Large Chairman, Flays County Exec Idea
Democratic State Rep. Jack Franks got the County Executive referendum on the November ballot Wednesday in a campaign most perceive as part of a war to get rid of Republican County Board Chairman Ken Koehler. However, even Algonquin Member Marc Munaretto, who challenged Koehler to head the Board last year, warned against being stampeded by Frank's ballot question. Adding a competing referendum, he said, would be "Acting in haste in response to Mr. Franks' effort to put us in a corner."
Even some members who voted against Koehler for Chairman still opposed Franks' County Executive proposal. Crystal Lake member Donna Kurtz, warned it would not only create a powerful new County officer, the statutory fine print would give him his own full-time lawyer. too. "We can't (try for direct Chairman election) at the expense of the County Executive having any chance of winning," she said.
Later First Assistant State's Attorney Norm Vinton responding to questions told the Board a County Executive would have "26 or 27" powers not given to a County Board Chairman.
Even Franks' fellow-Democrats on the Board attacked the measure. "I think it gives unlimited power to that position," said Lake in the Hills member Paula Yensen. The problem, said the Board's other Democrat, Kathy Bergen Schmidt, was that, "Having the (direct election of the Chairman) referendum on the ballot with the one yesterday adds nothing but confusion."
That seemed to be the Board's eventual consensus. Only three of the 19 members present voted for the at-large Chairman referendum.
Members did approve an advisory referendum about prohibiting anyone from holding two elective offices at the same time. Nobody does in McHenry County right now but there are a few in other Illinois counties so the Board wants voters on record just in case.