Clint Eastwood handled one empty chair at the Republican National Convention.
Had he attended the candidate’s night for County Board Districts 1, 2 and 3 Wednesday at McHenry County College, he would have had to deal with four of them.
In District 1 no incumbent Republican showed up.
Only former County Board member Yvonne Barnes, trying for a comeback, was there to represent the Republican Party.
Missing were Bob Bless, Anna May Miller and Robert Nowak.
Perhaps that means they consider Democrat Nick Chirikos, who was in attendance, not much of a challenge.
In District 2 County Board Chairman Ken Koehler begged off because of a knee operation and “a family obligation has me elsewhere tonight,” according to a statement read by the moderator.
The candidates were unanimous in the opposition to Jack Franks’ referendum to change the form of government to County Executive-dominated structure.
Yvonne Barnes got the first whack at that ball.
“I’m 100% opposed,” she said. “If the senior class in high school is having an election, it is the senior class members who should be voting, not all the citizens of McHenry County.”
“The County Board has operated the way it should,” Democrat Chirikos added.
He criticized the referendum as “ill-timed, ill-planned.” He said it was unfair for voters “to hhave this foisted upon them” and related a conversation with a Will County State’s Attorney’s candidate: “Don’t let this happen in McHenry County.” Will County has a County Executive form of government.
In District 2, incumbent Republican Donna Kurtz got first chance at the microphone.
She pointed out that the referendum “stemmed from Jack Franks.”
Kurtz criticized the idea as one that would bring “political management” to McHenry County with “patronage for over 1,500 employees…Chicago-style government.
“I hope you will vote ‘No.'”
Incumbent GOP member Jim Heisler was next to speak.
“Vote ‘No!’ Vote ‘No!” was his succinct advice. Passage, he argued, would result in a complete 180 degree turn[ing of] things in the wrong direction.”
Newcomer to County politics, Republican Carolyn Schofield, now on the Crystal Lake City Council, also opposed the proposal.
“Instead of taking someone to be held accountable [by the County Board] on a daily basis, [the County Executive would be held accountable] once every four years.”
She said she did support electing the County Board Chairman at-large.
Former District 5 County Board member Jim Kennedy, a Democrat from Lake in the Hills now running in District 2 because of reapportionment, said he was glad “the proposition was put on the ballot,” then said, “I’m against a County Executive.”
Her said he was in favor of electing the County Board Chairman at-large.
“I’m against it as well,” Democratic Party newcomer and Kennedy running mate Jim Roden said.
He pointed out, however, “If there wasn’t a problem, this issue wouldn’t be on the ballot. Enough people though the Chairman was too powerful. If Mr. Koehler is not re-elected it is a moot point.”
Roden was quite critical of Koehler when Metra offered to buy the land that he and his deceased partner’s estate owned in Ridgefield.
Democratic Party incumbent Kathy Bergan Schmidt, the first of the District 3 candidates to offer an opinion repeated her characterization of the proposal as a Trojan Horse.
“Once you get him in there, he has all the power or she. It could be a woman.”
Schmidt pointed out that it would take a 3/5 majority to override a County Executive’s veto.
She also favors popular election of the County Board Chairman.
“I, too, am opposed to this. This is not like the city [of Chicago],” Republican newcomer Mary McClellan said.
“All they’re offering is another layer of government.”
Republican County Board aspirant Mike Walkup first brought up the subject in his opening remarks: “The County Executive is a very, very dangerous idea.”
He claimed credit for coining the phrase “County Czar.”
In answering the question, he said, “I think I was the first person out of the box to oppose this.”
He related being at the County Fair when Franks and his assistants “were accosting people saying it would elect the County Board Chairman. That’s not correct.”
Incumbent Republican District 3 member Nick Provenzano pointed audience members to the web site NoCountyCzar.com.
“I am against the County Executive form of government,” he said. He explained there would be no term limits and it would cost someone over $100,000 to unseat in incumbent County Executive.
Non-incumbent District 3 Republican Joe Gottemoller also lined up against the proposal.
“I can’t tell you how much I think this is a bad idea.”
He talked of how it would be a “consolidation of power.”
“There is no reason to put this much power in the hands of one person.”