Voters may be asked to dissolve Aurora Election Commission

Posted8/5/2010 12:01 AM

Calling it an end to double-taxing, Kane County appears poised to support dissolving the Aurora Election Commission.

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner will pitch the idea of abolishing the commission to the city council next Tuesday. If the council agrees, Aurora residents will vote on a referendum in November. In the interim, a new Kane County task force will examine the viability of creating a satellite Kane County Clerk's office to fill part of the void left if the Aurora Election Commission vanishes.


County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay indicated support for the change in forming the new task force Wednesday.

"In our strategic plan we have always talked about having a satellite office in the south end of the county and also a satellite in the north end," she said. "I think it's very, very important to take services to our citizens and not make them travel."

Currently, residents of Aurora must travel to the clerk's office in Geneva for services such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and passports. The satellite office could provide those services, as well as basic voter registration, in Aurora.

Kane County would then also pick up the Kane County portion of Aurora for voting and ballot counting on election night. DuPage County already handles its portion of the Aurora elections. Kendall and Will County would be forced to pick up their areas of Aurora for election services, according to Weisner.

Weisner said Kane County contributes greatly to the costs of running the commission, but Kendall and Will counties don't give a dime.

"So to me, it wouldn't be a matter whether they're willing to pick up the services or not," Weisner said. "They would just have to. If those counties are interested in having a satellite office in Aurora, we'd be glad to talk to them."

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Right now, Aurora residents are taxed twice to fund the election commission. Aurora levies a tax. Kane County also levies a tax. In fact, Kane County is set to contribute $504,000 to fund the election commission this year.

Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham lives in Aurora and said dissolving the election commission is worth considering.

"There probably will be some added expenditures with opening this satellite office," Cunningham said. "I can't say definitely it would cost us any more."

Much of that cost could be paid for with $504,000 the county would keep. Weisner also told the county in a letter dated Aug. 2 that the city would provide a free building to the county for the satellite office.

Not all county board members support the move. Sylvia Leonberger, of Aurora, said the commission is well run and can provide a better level of election night services than the county can. She believes the sheer size of Aurora necessitates it having its own election commission. Aurora has more precincts than any other area of Kane County.

"If this gets on the ballot, I'll be forming my own group to actively oppose it," Leonberger promised.