“As a Democratic Party candidate for a District 6 seat on the McHenry County Board, I now am receiving more and more questions about my public policy views.
“Recently, a township official sent me an email. In part, he asked this question: “What are your feelings on the consolidation (and/or dissolution) of certain forms of local government? Which ones would you choose to change and why?”
“Here, edited somewhat, is my response:
‘Yes, we must make changes. As you and I know, Illinois has the highest number of local governments of any state. Reducing them will of course be exceedingly difficult from a political standpoint.
‘I support the Jack Franks initiative establishing the current study commission on local government. I am very hopeful that it will lead to constructive and meaningful changes.
‘As for my personal views — I believe that “pruning” is a more appropriate concept than outright cutting. Perhaps some quick examples will suffice.
‘Oak Park and River Forest have three school districts: two elementary and one high school. One unified district might serve well.
‘I know you’re aware of the initiative in Evanston to consolidate the city and the township. I agree with this: in highly urbanized areas, municipalities and townships should be merged.
‘In rural townships, more emphasis should be placed on consolidation of services (as opposed to dissolution). Can some townships share an assessor or a highway superintendent? I think so — though that’s far easier said than done, of course.
‘But it’s not just about cutting units of government. It’s also about merging positions, and selectively closing offices. For example, DeKalb County has combined the offices of county clerk and county recorder.
‘And do we really need 102 state’s attorneys, and 102 clerks of court (one of each, in each county)? The state has 22 judicial circuits; I’d like instead to see one chief prosecutor and one court clerk in each circuit.
‘Does the Illinois Secretary of State have to have a driver facility in each county? That’s highly expedient from a political standpoint, of course.
‘But to make up an example — why not have a consolidated Winnebago-Boone facility for drivers? Or Boone-McHenry?
‘Yes, it’d be a bit more inconvenient for residents of, say, Belvidere. But can we as taxpayers continue to afford things the way they are now?
‘In short, my position is this. Rather than engaging in simplistic or across-the-board cuts, I’d like to keep the services that are cost effective, and instead consolidate and streamline the work of local government.
‘Thanks very much for taking the time to contact me.’