County chairperson bill ignores wishes of McHenry County voters, says Reick
An amendment to Illinois' Counties Code seeks to circumvent the voters of McHenry County and give a county chairperson more power, according to a release from state Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock).
In 2012, a referendum was placed on the November ballot after a successful petition drive seeking to establish a county executive who would run the day-to-day business of the county board. Despite the success of the petition to get the question on the ballot, the measure was soundly defeated, with nearly 65 percent of voters saying "no."
Two years later, McHenry County voters in a referendum voted to make the board chairman, a role similar to the board executive but with limited political powers, a popularly elected position, according to the release. That measure passed, with former state Rep. Jack Franks being elected directly to the position.
However, on Nov. 7, House Bill 171 was submitted. The bill would amend the Illinois Counties Code, assigning any elected county board chair the ability to create standing committees and appoint members and chairpersons to those committees as long as the counties have a population between 300,000 and 900,000 people, the release said.
This change in the powers of the county chairman would bypass the wishes of voters in McHenry County, Reick said in the release. Calling the bill "narrowly tailored to apply to McHenry County," he promised during a recent Senate session that he would vote "no" on the bill.
"I think if there's going to be any kind of effort made to change the relationship between the County Board Chairman and the people of McHenry County, I believe it should be done at the local level," Reick said at a recent House session, according to a YouTube video from House Republican Leader Jim Durkin's office. "It should be done by referendum within McHenry County, let the people of McHenry County decide what it is they want in the form of county government, and 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."
Despite Reick's objection and "no" vote, the bill passed 63-48 and now moves to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"I spoke out against the bill on the House floor, and I will encourage the Governor to veto the bill when it hits his desk," Reick said in the release.