Reick, Wheeler urge no vote on county chairman limits
Reps. Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) and Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) recently urged a no vote to codify the form of county government.
During the House debate Nov. 8, both Reick and Wheeler strongly opposed HB171 Senate Amendment 1, which codifies the practice of county board chairmen creating standing committees and appointing members with the advice and consent of the majority of the county board. The change only applies to counties with the population of 300,000 to 900,000 and where the chairman is elected by the voters of county. Currently Kane and McHenry counties meet these requirements.
“There is a little history that needs to be put in place here," Reick said of the bill sponsored by HB171 Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elign). "About five years ago, McHenry County put it down in a referendum to create a county form of executive government. After that we put on the ballot a move to have a popularly elected county board chairman.”
McHenry County approved the move.
Wheeler spoke to the bill from personal experience.
“I was a McHenry County Board member for 10 years and each year we were able to adopt our own rules,” Wheeler said. “I have heard from many county board members, unlike what the sponsor said, they are not all in favor of this.”
Moeller made it clear the change was not as it seemed.
“Contrary to how this is being characterized, this is not creating a dictatorship within the counties that are included within this bill,” Moeller said. “The county board chairman will still have to get the advice of the county board to make these appointments. It grants the authority to craft and staff their committees as best serves their county.”
Reick said change should come from one place only.
“I think if there is going to be any type of change between the county board chairman and the people of McHenry County, I believe it should be done at the local level by referendum within McHenry County,” Reick said. "Citizens should decide what it is they want in the form of county government. Let’s not have the state of Illinois put its stamp of approval on something that has already been turned down by the people of McHenry County.”
“We can’t change the rules on the people that voted countywide,” Wheeler said. “This is what they asked for and this is what the voters knew they were getting into, and this is what I ask that you continue to maintain. Please vote no.”
Reick also urged a nay.
“This is a second bite at the apple,” Reick said. “If you are going to bite the apple, do it at the county level. I will vote no on this bill.”
The voted 63-48 to concur with the Senate amendment.