Greeting me this morning was the following argument from State Rep. Mike Tryon against State Rep. Jack Franks’ County Executive referendum:
McHenry County Citizens,
As Election Day draws near, I would like to encourage you to exercise your right to vote in this critical election on November 6th. There is a very solid slate of Republican candidates from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan all the way down to the good Republicans who are running in all six districts of the McHenry County Board. Voting straight Republican will result in sensible and stable leadership at all levels.
In addition to encouraging you to vote Republican in this election, I also wanted to take this opportunity to straighten out some misconceptions about the County Executive referendum.
Toward the end of your ballot you will see a proposition to adopt a County Executive form of government. The exact ballot question reads: “Shall the County of McHenry adopt the County Executive Form of Government and elect not to become a home rule unit?” It disappoints me greatly that proponents of this ballot question continue to spread false and misleading information regarding the issue. If you support smaller government, transparency and accountability, please join me in voting NO on this ballot question. I will list some of their claims and facts that dispute them below:
Proponents’ Claim: A County Executive form will lead to more accountability and transparency.
FACTS: Under the County Executive form, there is less accountability and less transparency. Today’s county board is subject to the Open Meetings Act. All business, including committee meetings, is conducted in public and in front of the press. A County Executive (as an individual) is not subject to the Open Meetings Act. He/she can create the budget, redraw county board district boundary lines, and conduct a great deal of business behind his closed office door. Even more alarming, a County Executive can award no-bid contracts up to $25,000 to anyone he/she wants with no county board oversight. In addition, today’s county board chairman is elected for a two year term and during that time he is directly accountable to the 24 county board members, and by extension, the voters. The day-to day operation of the county is led today by a hired professional (not a politician) who can be fired at any time by the county board. A County Executive is elected for four-year terms, and can only be removed if he/she is convicted of a crime. Otherwise this individual has a full four years to implement an agenda.
Proponents’ Claim: A County Executive form will lower your taxes.
FACTS: A change to a County Executive form of government increases the size of government. McHenry County currently has a 24-member county board and one of those individuals is selected to serve as chairman for two-year terms. Will County is the ONLY Illinois county to utilize a County Executive form of government, and a visit to their web site (www.willcountyillinois.com) clearly shows that they have a 27-member county board with one member selected to serve as chairman, plus an entire list of Executive branch employees, including: County Executive, his Chief of Staff, his Manager of Operations, his Finance Director, his Legal Council (serves in addition to the State’s Attorney), his Communications Director, and his Public Information Officer.
Proponents’ Claim: Will County has lower taxes than McHenry County.
FACTS: Proponents continue to use an “apples to oranges” tax comparison between McHenry and Will counties. McHenry County has four voter-approved and mandated tax rates that do not exist in Will County. This includes our Valley Hi Nursing Home, Senior Services, Veterans Assistance and Mental Health services. These four districts represent approximately 30% of the McHenry County tax bill. In addition, Will County has a much larger industrial tax base (24% in Will vs only 14% in McHenry). They do not account for this disparity in their numbers.
Proponents’ Claim: A County Executive form will not create a new layer of government.
FACTS: This is absolutely false. Today McHenry County does not have an executive branch of government. If the referendum is successful, a County Executive and the staff members mentioned above will be added.
Proponents’ Claim: Most of the United States is governed by the County Executive form.
FACTS: In reality, there are only 14 states that offer the County Executive as an option, and two of those states require it. In Illinois, even though it has been available to counties for almost 30 years, only Will County has chosen to use it. Ballot initiatives in other counties regarding making the change to a County Executive have failed by large margins.
Proponents’ Claim: The County Executive form leads to better representation.
FACTS: To the contrary, a switch to a County Executive weakens county-wide representation. Today, McHenry County is divided into six geographic districts, and voters from each district send four people to the county board to represent their interests. Each vote, including that of today’s county board chairman, carries the same weight. Majority rules all decisions and the chairman’s job is to implement the majority votes of the board. A County Executive would have Governor-like veto power over the actions of the county board. Additionally, today every county board district is represented on each county board committee. A County Executive would be under no obligation to provide similar county-wide voices on committees since he puts the committees together without input from the board.
If you have not yet seen this short video which summarizes the many reasons why you should vote NO to this ballot proposal, please take three minutes to watch my closing remarks at the recent forum on the county executive proposal.
Again, please take time to vote, as the consequences of this election are significant.
McHenry County Republican Party