A McHenry County judge has certified a petition to place a referendum question on the November ballot asking residents if they want an executive form of government for the county.
Chief Judge Michael J. Sullivan entered an order after a hearing Wednesday morning stating the petition submitted Aug. 6 by state Rep. Jack Franks is "legally sufficient," court records show.
"No other parties showed up and there were no objections filed," McHenry County Circuit Clerk Katherine Keefe said. The petition, which needed 500 signatures, had about 1,600.
Franks said the county board has been overtaxing residents. He also pointed the finger at county board Chairman Ken Koehler, alleging Koehler has not required transparency from the county board, and entered into "clandestine" land deals in 2009, when Metra bought property owned, in part, by Koehler near Crystal Lake for a new station.
"I think the county board is not responsive to people and the citizens are angry, and that's why they overwhelmingly signed the petition to change the county government," Franks said.
Koehler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Will County is the only county in Illinois with an executive form of government, in which a county executive manages day-to-day operations and has veto power over the county board. Several members of the county board blasted Franks' move last week, arguing that having a county executive would not be in the best interest of the county.
Meanwhile, the county board will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss whether to place another referendum question on the November ballot asking residents if they want to directly elect the board's chairman. Currently, the chairman is elected by county board members.
Franks said he hopes the county board will vote to put the second referendum question on the ballot. "I want to see if they're going to do the right thing on their own. If they do, I'll work with them," he said, declining to say whether he'd consider withdrawing his petition.
The state election code doesn't specify what procedure would need to be followed if Franks wanted to withdraw his petition, said Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
On Thursday, the county board also will discuss a possible advisory referendum question about holding two or more elected offices simultaneously.