At least one applicant vying to become Kane County's representative on the RTA board has decided to bow out believing his candidacy poses a conflict of interest.
Kane County Board member Mike Donahue sent fellow board members and Chairman Chris Lauzen a letter Wednesday withdrawing his name from the pool of 24 applicants. Donahue said he reviewed the county's ethics ordinance following a Daily Herald article citing a provision in the code that states "no officer shall solicit or accept employment with the county within one year of such officer's resignation or termination of an elected term." It's unclear whether the RTA board fits the description of "employment with the county" since the RTA pays the $25,000 salary, pension and insurance benefits of the position. The county is in charge of the hiring/appointment. In his letter, Donahue said his reading of the code disqualifies him from consideration.
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"Initially, I did not read the ordinance to include boards and commissions such as the RTA, but upon further reflection I agree that the spirit and intent of the ordinance, which we just reaffirmed last year, is to prevent current and recently retired county board members and county elected officials from receiving undue political consideration from their peers in the appointment process," Donahue wrote.
Donahue was the only current county board member vying for the appointment. If given the RTA job, he would have resigned from the county board and left a vacancy Lauzen would have played a role in filling.
There are four other applicants the ethics code provision may apply to. Bonnie Kunkel, Jim Mitchell and Tom Van Cleave all left the board following the November election. Mitchell, who headed the effort to beef up the ethics ordinance, did not immediately respond to an interview request Wednesday. William Keck also retired as the Kane County auditor following that same election.
On Wednesday, Lauzen said the three-member panel reviewing the applications is close to submitting their selection to Lauzen. The board is set to vote on the would-be appointee at its next full board meeting next Tuesday.