DuPage election panel head resigns

The chairman of the DuPage Board of Election Commissioners has resigned after most county board members called for him to step down.

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin on Monday announced he has accepted the resignation of J.P. “Rick” Carney, who had been chairman of the three-person election board for six years.

Carney resigned over the weekend after Cronin and 11 county board members sought his removal following last week’s release of a report that revealed the commission’s poor procurement and ethics practices.

“I appreciate Rick stepping aside to allow us to start anew with fresh leadership at the election commission,” Cronin said in a statement. “We appreciate his service and wish him well in the future.”

In his resignation letter, Carney said “the integrity” of the election commission has been his focus since being appointed a commissioner in November 2005. The Wheaton Republican became the panel’s chairman in January 2006.

Carney said the report by the accounting firm of Crowe Horwath LLC indicated that the commission has saved “approximately $5 million” since 2006 by reducing voting centers.

Under his leadership, Carney said the commission has “successfully and efficiently administered” state and federal election procedures with 100 percent accuracy. Health and pension benefits for election board members also ended under his direction, Carney said.

But in their report, the Crowe Horwath consultants concluded that improvements must be made to the commission’s credit card, ethics and procurement policies. The bipartisan agency also needs to increase transparency and accountability, according to the report.

Carney said the commission was in the process of reviewing several internal controls recommended by the consultants. For example, the agency has drafted a proposed ethics ordinance that, if adopted, would address a list of topics, including board disclosure, contractor disclosure and conflict of interest.

“The responsibility of serving the election commission has been a privilege,” Carney wrote. “My hope was to continue to assess any procedural operations that needed to be addressed.”

Now that three new commissioners will be in place, Carney said they will bring their “experience and oversight to compliment” the election commission.

Cronin is expected to appoint Carney’s replacement sometime before the election commission’s next meeting on May 8.

Last week, he appointed Elmhurst Republican Cathy Ficker Terrill and West Chicago Democrat Art Ludwig. They replaced former board members Jeanne McNamara and Charlotte Mushow, both of whom were serving on expired terms.

The county board chairman doesn’t need board approval to appoint new members to the election commission. State law requires both political parties be represented, but Republicans have held two of the three seats. Commissioners are paid $27,500 a year.

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