Direct Democracy Falls Two Votes Short

The effort to allow voters in unincorporated McHenry County the opportunity to weigh in on whether they want five video slot machines in their local bars and restaurants lost in a county board vote of 13-11-1.

The headline reflects the fact that a two-vote switch would have meant an advisory referendum on the euphemistically entitled “video poker” would have been put on the primary election ballot on February 2nd.

The thirteen board members who voted against allowing their constituents to vote on the issue follow:

  • Yvonne Barnes (R-Cary)
  • Sue Draffkorn (R-Wonder Lake)
  • Paula Yensen (D-Lake in the Hills)
  • Ed Dvorak (R-Crystal Lake)
  • Jim Heisler (R-Crystal Lake)
  • Ken Koehler (R-Crystal Lake)
  • Mary McCann (R-Woodstock)
  • Pete Merkel (R-McHenry)
  • Virginia Peschke (R-Bull Valley)
  • Sandy Salgado (R-McHenry)
  • Kathy Bergan Schmidt (D-Crystal Lake)
  • Barb Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake)

Six incumbents up for election voted against holdng a referendum and are shown in bold face. The two from McHenry—Merkel and Salgado—have no primary opponents.  Dvorak, whose term is up, is retiring.

Barnes, Koehler McCann and Wheeler do have Republican primary opposition.

The two Democratic Party women on the board–Yensen and Schmidt–split with their male colleague Jim Kennedy on the vote. Kennedy is up for election; the other two are not.

Voting in favor of an advisory referendum were

  • Bob Bless (R-Fox River Grove)
  • Scott Breeden (R-Lakewood)
  • Mary Donner (R-Crystal Lake)
  • John Hammerand (R-Wonder Lake)
  • Tina Hill (R-Woodstock)
  • Jim Kennedy (D-Lake in the Hills)
  • Anna May Miller (R-Cary)
  • Marc Munaretto (R-Algonquin)
  • Lyn Orphal (R-Crystal Lake)
  • Dan Ryan (R-Huntley)

The five up for re-election are shown in boldface type.

Randy Donnelly was advised by Ken Koehler not to vote because he has a relative holding a liquor license. He reluctantly abstained.

A vote will be held on whether or not to ban video gambling in the unincorporated areas of McHenry County after a 30-day waiting period. An attempt to hold an immediate vote was defeated in voice vote.


Direct Democracy Falls Two Votes Short — 3 Comments

  1. A couple issues for you:

    1. We elect Representatives to vote on our behalf. It’s their job to keep in touch with the Citizens, and equally important, it’s OUR responsibility as voters to make our voices known to our elected officials. They, in turn, vote.

    Should we have “direct Democracy” on every important issue? Is that what you’re suggesting?

    2. There is a mechanism in place whereby Citizens can force a referendum via a petition. Voting down an Advisory Referendum (which is simply a fancy shmancy way of conducting an expensive opinion poll) really doesn’t impede on Democracy at all. They voted down a highly inefficient and expensive market research study, which would NOT compel them to vote up or down on the issue at hand.

    If the voters want any particular issue to be taken to a vote, the voters have an indirect method via their representative to craft proposed legislation), and one direct method (petition) to do so. There’s no foul here, as I see it. Enlighten me if you think I’m off-base. Thanks! -JC

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