There were two questions asked of all candidates who participated (only Mary McCann did not) in the McHenry County League of Women Voters candidates’ forums for County Board:
- Pensions (and insurance the second time around)
I’ll deal with the second question Friday
The moderator went to the topic of County Board members getting pension and health insurance first with District 1, 2 and 3 candidates because 10-11 people submitted questions on those topics.
(See what District 4, 5, and 6 candidates, minus Mary McCann, said to the pension question here.)
Fox River Grove District 1 candidate Terence Ferenc spoke first.
“I won’t take either of them,” the retired U.S. Navy Seabee said.
District 1 incumbent Anna May Miller replied,
“I do take the IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund).”
Regarding insurance she said she had the “option and I said, ‘No.'”
Miller does have health insurance from her job at the Algonquin Township Road District.
Tom Wilbeck, also running in District 1 and a former member of the McHenry County College Board, promised not to “take a pension,” but said he would take a look at health insurance.
“I guarantee you you will get a full-time [effort].”
Cameron Hubbard of District 2 explained he didn’t plan on taking the health insurance.
With regard to the pension, the financial advisor said, “I will look into the pension and see what the benefits are.”
District 2 opponent John Reinert said he doubted “very much” whether he would serve long enough to qualify for the pension.
With regard to the health insurance: “I probably would look at it.”
He noted that the existence of the health insurance made it “more enticing” to run.
Recently appointed to replace District 2 Board member Ken Koehler, Jeff Thorsen told the crowd, “I currently don’t take either one.
“I see it as a litmus test for some people.”
Nancy Gonsiorek of District 3 said, “I do not intend to take the pension.”
Speaking to the question, she continued, “I think it is an irrelevant [issue].” [This quote is questioned by Gonsiorek. She thinks Thorsen said it, but my notes have it next to her name. I’ll try to check it out.]
She noted that she would lose health insurance on her husband’s policy, if she were elected.
Incumbent Nick Provenzano gave the most direct answer: “Yes and yes,” indicating he is in the pension system and takes the health insurance.
“I quite honestly am focused on much bigger dollars,” he continued, claiming credit for engineering $14 million in property tax savings on the $350,000,000 county budget.
He said that if a member were focusing on $40,000 in savings, “it’s a wasted seat.”
Cheri Rickert, a member of the McHenry County Ethics Commission and a retiree from the McHenry Grade School District, said, “I don’t have plans now to take the insurance. and I won’t take the IMRF (she explained why, but I couldn’t write fast enough).
Mike Walkup is currently in both the pension and the insurance programs.
Then, the rotation method of asking questions returned to District 1 and incumbent Yvonne Barnes.
“I do participate in the programs now. I anticipate I will continue to participate.
“I certainly agree that the benefits are not appropriate for a part-time position.”
The Vice Chairwoman of the County Board explained that she works full-time on the job.
She proposed that County Board members be allowed to participate, “but they pick up the cost.”