Challenger says ethics an issue in Kane clerk's race
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Republican Kane County clerk challenger Stan Bond says a record of impropriety makes incumbent Jack Cunningham ripe for replacement. Cunningham says he's paid for his mistakes and Bond is only reviving them to settle a personal grudge.
Bond and fellow Republican Cunningham clashed over ethics during a recent Daily Herald endorsement interview. Bond is an Illinois Republican State Central Committeeman, Montgomery village trustee and an employee with the circuit court clerk's office. At one time, he was one of Cunningham's employees in the clerk's office.
Bond said he was not fired from the position. A nondisclosure agreement prohibits him and Cunningham from sharing the circumstances surrounding Bond's departure.
"I don't dislike Stan," Cunningham said. "He's a nice guy. But I know when you get rid of an employee there's always a chance they won't be happy. I anticipated this contest."
During the interview, Bond referenced news headlines of the past he believes show Cunningham has questionable ethics. Those headlines date to 2012 when Cunningham hired a known felon to circulate his nominating petitions during a run for the 11th Congressional District seat. In 2014, Cunningham admitted using his county email address in five instances for political purposes. He paid a $500 fine plus court costs after an investigation showed he sent the emails by accident. Cunningham didn't realize his county email was the default account on a personal device he used to access both his work and personal emails. This past year, Cunningham hired former county board member Brian Pollock about a month after Pollock lost his re-election bid. The county ethics ordinance bans elected officials from seeking employment with the county for one year after leaving office. Cunningham's office is not obligated to follow the ethics ordinance.
Bond said instances like those "tear a little bit at the fabric of the public trust of the office."
"It's time for a new style of management, and a new style of hiring," Bond said. "I think the personnel in the office should also have some scrutiny as to whether they were politically motivated hires or if they have a functional purpose. That's about ethics as well because it's using public money."
Bond said his own political background was not a factor in his own hiring when he worked for Cunningham.
Cunningham said the mistakes he's made have all been lessons leading to a more efficient and ethical office. He never hides any error, he said, and owning up to mistakes is part of ethical behavior.
"I make mistakes, but I'm accountable for my mistakes," Cunningham said.
He said the email of all employees, including his own, are now scanned for any non work-related use, a known check that helps prevent any such use. He also pointed to cost savings he's created by consolidating voting precincts into fewer polling places while making adjustments in staffing to ensure lines aren't too long. Cunningham said he also deserves another term so he can continue ongoing efforts to encourage early voting and make it more accessible to the county.