In 2012 the voters of McHenry County voted down a referendum which would have established a “County Executive” form of government. As described in an article by Kevin Craver in the Northwest Herald, the authority of the County Executive included:
- Preparing the county’s annual budget;
- Appointing people to boards and commissions;
- Hiring and firing department employees;
- Entering into intergovernmental agreements;
- Negotiating with public and private entities to promote economic development;
- Redrawing county board district boundaries after each decennial U.S. Census;
- Appointing independent legal counsel.
After the referendum was defeated, the voters of McHenry County in 2014 passed a referendum to make the position of County Board Chairman a popularly-elected position, instead of being appointed by the members of the Board itself. In 2016, McHenry County elected its first popularly elected Board Chairman.
Not content with to work within the boundaries prescribed by the Illinois Counties Code, a bill narrowly tailored to apply to McHenry County was offered up during veto session which expanded the powers of the Chairman to do the following:
“With the advice and consent of a majority of the county board, a county board chairman elected by the voters of the county shall:
- Create standing committees; and
- Appoint members and chairpersons to standing committees.
This Section applies to counties having a population between 300,000 and 900,000.”
If these changes are going to be made, the voters of McHenry County should be the ones to make them. Instead, what we’re getting is the County Executive form of government by going to Springfield, which is a craven end-around attempt to do what the people of McHenry County rejected in 2012. 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.