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posted: 6/7/2017 12:42 PM

Editorial: If state won't act on DuPage election panel, referendum needed

Referendum in DuPage County a good way if the state won't act

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  • DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, left, and county Clerk Paul Hinds talk last fall about a proposal to merge the clerk's office with the DuPage Election Commission.

      DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, left, and county Clerk Paul Hinds talk last fall about a proposal to merge the clerk's office with the DuPage Election Commission.
    Robert Sanchez photo | Staff Photographer

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Count DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin among the many who have grown weary of waiting for the Illinois Legislature to do its work.

In Cronin's case, the battle over the budget and taxes and other partisan issues meant inaction for legislation he has been pushing: merging the county's election commission with the county clerk's office and creating a five-member bipartisan oversight panel.

"The bill is complicated and it got caught up with a lot of other issues," Cronin said this week. And so he's taking the matter in a different direction.

"I'm ready to dissolve the election commission and hand over all of the responsibilities for running elections and administering elections to the county clerk," Cronin said. With that, he's pursuing a binding referendum question to accomplish the consolidation.

We have long been proponents of the elimination of a separate commission, which was created in 1973 by state law. Cronin says it will save taxpayers $300,000 a year, largely by combining staff and finding efficiencies.

"If we can do the same quality service more efficiently and save taxpayers money, that's the direction we should take," Cronin added.

What's missing in this new course of action, is the oversight panel. We like the idea of a bipartisan panel that gives voice to both parties in a county where the clerk now is a Republican. But Cronin is right to move forward and address that issue later rather than waiting for the General Assembly to do what's right. As we've seen over the last two years in the budget battle, doing what's right isn't always a top priority.

"Apparently, they've got bigger fish to fry," Cronin said of his political counterparts in Springfield. "So let's do our business and not wait for them. We'll get back to this oversight after we dissolve the election commission and after we fold it into the clerk's office."

This move makes common and financial sense and Cronin again deserves kudos as consolidation and the savings it represents has been a hallmark of his tenure as chairman.

We'd also recommend, again, similar action to consolidate the Aurora Election Commission with the four counties that take in parts of the city and run elections already. Because it was created in 1934 through referendum, it needs to be dissolved that way as well, according to officials. A 2012 effort failed but it's time a new effort was re-engaged to make it happen and save money for taxpayers who pay both the city and the county they are in for election services. Perhaps Aurora's newly sworn-in Mayor Richard Irvin can take a page out of Cronin's book as he looks for new and more efficient ways to do business.

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