Kane County officials are poised to hire two new social media and community outreach experts on the heels of the acrimonious resignation of the employee who built the foundation for the roles.
County board members are expected to create a permanent line item of $81,000 in the budget for the positions next week.
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County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen developed the positions seven months ago as temporary roles with the potential to make them permanent. Both of Lauzen's first community outreach hires, Cheryl Maraffio and Nick Scanlan, have vacated the roles, and Lauzen said in an interview that it's time for the positions to evolve.
"I'm very grateful for what the first two people initiated," Lauzen said. "They got us going in the right direction. But as the positions evolve, I think you'll find that the new folks have a very special level of experience that will serve the growth of building those social communities."
Lauzen said he has already gone through interviews to fill the vacant slots and is on the verge of filling the positions. Once hired, one of the first projects the two will tackle is the creation of a "Junior Kane County Board."
A team of 18 to 24 high school and junior college students will create presentations about why they like living, working and investing in Kane County during the course of four meetings. The meetings will also train them in democratic self-governance and the general conduct of government meetings.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for many young people to step forward and learn," Lauzen said. "It will look great on a resume."
That's assuming the new community outreach coordinators can pull the project together. Maraffio, a recent campaign manager for Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and Lauzen's hand-picked selection, was the last community outreach coordinator to try to form the junior county board project into what Lauzen envisions. According to Lauzen's account of why Maraffio recently resigned, she wasn't able to meet his standards.
"The pressures to perform, I know that's not something that we wear on our sleeves, but they are certainly there," Lauzen said at the most recent meeting of the county board's finance committee. "The breaking point (for Maraffio) on this one was the Junior Kane County Board function."
Lauzen indicated it was shortly after he and Maraffio clashed over some of the final details for the project that Maraffio resigned. But in a letter to Lauzen and the county board, Maraffio said there was another reason she felt compelled to resign.
"The fact is, I did resign my position as Kane County Connected community outreach coordinator due to an obvious, significant lack of professional courtesy and respect for me, my work, and my commitment to Kane County," Maraffio wrote.
Maraffio said the timing of her resignation had nothing to do with the junior county board nor any pressures associated with the job. She urged Lauzen to not defame her by misleading people about why she really quit.
Maraffio declined an interview request. When asked if there was any misunderstanding about Maraffio's tenure at the county, Lauzen said there are no ill feelings.
"I'm very grateful for Cheryl's work," Lauzen said.