Thursday, August 25, 2016

BDR coverage of county referendum

Countywide vote on board chairman getting more discussion

Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings


By Bob Balgemann


The chairman of the Boone County Board now is elected each year from among sitting board members. The position is good for one year and a new chair is chosen each December.

Currently, board member Cathy Ward would like a referendum asking voters if they believe future board chairs should be elected countywide.

No decision is expected to be made in time for the question to be placed on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The issue was discussed at the Aug. 1 meeting of the administrative and legislative committee, chaired by District I board member Sherry Giesecke.

This is one of seven standing committees of the county board and its membership consists of five county board members.

Here are some of the thoughts offered on Aug. 1:

Adding a 13th person to the board is not a good idea.

Voters elected the 12 board members to represent them and that includes deciding a new board chairman.

The size of the current county board should be reduced, not increased.

Why not let social media run the county?

Having the board chair elected county-wide would be changing the board to a different form of government.

In a note to committee Chairperson Giesecke, board member Ward said she had been told by State’s Attorney Michelle Courier that the board could approve having such a referendum placed on the ballot.

Ultimately, the committee decided much more discussion was needed before a recommendation – if one was agreed upon – the recommendation could be referred to the full board for consideration.

More talk is expected at the September meeting.

Also at the Aug. 1 meeting, the committee approved a resolution in support of an advisory referendum concerning “anti-corruption reform.” The board was expected to consider the resolution at its Aug. 17 meeting.

The referendum is being proposed by the group, “Represent US,” and would read:

“Do you support reducing the corrupting influence of money on our political system by prohibiting politicians from taking campaign money from the special interests they regulate; increasing transparency for campaign funding; empowering all voters through a tax rebate voucher to contribute to the candidates they support; prohibiting representatives and senior staff from lobbying activity for five years after they leave office; and placing limits on Super PAC-campaign coordination?”

The measure is being advanced locally by Angelique Bodine of Candlewick Lake, a Democratic candidate for the State House District 69 seat currently held by State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford. District 69 includes the vast majority of Boone County.

A second resolution, which had not been drafted as of Aug. 1, would be in support of term limits and redistricting reform at the state and federal levels. This is being supported by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who maintains it has bipartisan backing in Springfield.

The local referendum, should it get on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, would be advisory in nature.

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