Saturday evening at future State Rep. Barb Wheeler’s fund raiser in Wauconda, I was told that State Rep. Jack Franks had been seen passing a petition to elect the head of McHenry County government at Fiesta Days.
My immediate thought was that Franks was tired of the grueling commute between McHenry County and Springfield.
Having made that commute more years that Franks will have by the time he runs for the newly-created position he seeks in 2014, I can certainly understand his motivation to find a job where he could see his wife and kids at night.
Of course, his law practice is such a job, but it doesn’t fulfill his desire to exercise more power.
Then, timed two days before his Mike Madigan-chaired, Chicago $250-$5,000 fund raiser at the Paris Club Wednesday, comes a front page article on his petition campaign to change the form of McHenry County government.
It was in Jack Franks’ local paper of choice, pretty much the only paper to run his story that he was not going to run for Governor three years ago. (The petition campaign is also an admission that Franks cannot win a statewide Democratic Party primary election campaign in 2014 anymore than he could have in 2010. Also relevant is that by cutting Algonquin Township out of the 14th Congressional District, Franks would be unable to attempt to leverage a McHenry County base in a run for Congress.)
That’s the Northwest Herald, of course.
I am told that the petition reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, qualified and registered voters in the County of McHenry, State of Illinois, who have affixed out signatures in our own proper persons to this Petition, hereby Petition, that there be submitted to the electors of the County of McHenry, for approval by a majority of the electors in the county voting on the question, at the General Election to be held on November 6, 2012 in the manner provided by law, the following proposition,
“Shall the county of McHenry adopt the county executive form of government and elect not to become a home rule unit? Yes/No”
That is a policy question, of course.
The ramifications of passage are significant.
It would greatly concentrate power in McHenry County.
Now we have a “weak Chairman” of the County Board. (And I am not referring to the person holding the office, Ken Koehler, whom Jack Franks cannot stand, but the form of government. Blame the analysis on my having taught State and Local Government at Harper and Rockford Colleges.)
A County Executive would be much more powerful.
Being the kind of guy who does not want power concentrated, I shall oppose the proposition.
But I predict it will pass.
That’s because voters always want to be able to elect everyone in sight.
I have yet to see a referendum that proposed direct election of a public official lose.
This could be viewed as the easy way for Democrats to gain power in McHenry County.
Winning in multi-member districts that tend to submerge Democratic Party strong holds is difficult.
Let me note that early on in his career, Franks passed a bill that would allow a referendum asking voters if they wanted to elect Board members from single-member districts, saying that if it passed and the County Board still would not set single-member districts, he would introduce a bill that would allow a binding referendum.
Not having a personal in single-member districts, just a Party interest, Franks never leg such a petition passing campaign.
While a single-member district petition campaign could help Democratic Party candidates for the County Board, the County Executive petition passing benefits only Jack Franks.
If elected, Franks would have some patronage jobs, so some Democrats would win, too.
Perhaps you can think of someone on the current County Board who could beat Franks, but I can’t.
Besides the generally uncritical coverage of Franks by the County’s paper of record, he has upwards of $500,000 of cash in the bank.
He can afford to hire people to knock on every door in McHenry County when he runs in 2014.
Three times or more, plus flooding mailboxes with puff pieces about himself and hit pieces on whatever the Republican Party has to offer.
Of course, the Republican Party could roll over and play dead as it did this year when party leaders not only
- did not recruit a candidates to file against Franks by petition, but
- rejected Tea Party activist Tonya Franklin’s offer to try to jump over the new hurdles set by state law.
Of course, if Franks runs for another office in 2012, he can’t run for State Representative.
If there is a Democrat in the 63rd District who could beat whatever Republican will win the 2014 primary, I don’t have a clue it might be.
It is pretty clear that Franks supporter Brian Sager, the Mayor of Woodstock and member of Jack Franks “Host Committee” for his fund raisers, has been preparing to run for State Representative.
He obviously was unwilling to run against Franks.
It couldn’t be deliberate on anyone’s part that a conservative Republican was not allowed to run against Franks this year, could it?
Just a coincidence, right?
Franks does have one glaring weakness in a run for a management job.
He has no management experience, at least none that I have seen.