Clarification: Subsequent to Jack Franks refusing to answer whether he would be interested in running for county executive, he emphatically said that he would not. This endorsement has been altered to reflect that change. Also, only the county board has the power to put forth a referendum providing for a county board chairman to be popularly elected.
McHenry County voters will be asked whether they prefer a county executive form of government over what they have now, in which a county board chairman is elected by the board itself from its members and a hired county administrator sees to the everyday business of the county.
State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, pushed to get this on the ballot. One of his gripes is that county board Chairman Ken Koehler, who has been chairman for eight of his 12 years on the board, has become too powerful and been less than transparent.
While the county board executive form of government has been available to all counties for four decades, only the voters of Will County have opted to use it. Three other counties, including Lake, have rejected it.
It would have an elected person in charge of daily operations and would give that person veto power over the county board. McHenry County leaders on the whole -- whether elected or hired -- have managed to keep the county above much of the financial turmoil and layoffs that others have faced. With all 24 county board members up for election -- and plenty of competition for those spots -- there are easier ways for voters to solve what they consider problems than changing the county's form of government.Vote no.
County board members did in recent weeks consider a public vote on whether the county board chairman should be elected directly by the people, as is done in Kane and Cook and other counties. The board opted against asking that question in November, suggesting it would only serve to confuse voters. We urge the board to put that question to voters next year. It has merit.