Chairman kills push for county board deputy

Posted1/24/2013 4:48 PM
  • Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen

    Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen

A proposal by Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen that spawned abnormal partisan bickering by county officials died Thursday with a plea for unity.

Lauzen wanted to add a potentially powerful deputy chairman to the roster of county board titles. While the technical description of the position seemed more befitting a legislative whip, Lauzen promoted the new spot as more of an ambassadorship. The deputy would attend functions around the county on behalf of Lauzen if he was otherwise occupied, Lauzen said.

"I was looking to get a little help from a second person, give another board member some countywide experience," Lauzen said. He told a county board committee Thursday he logged about 32 hours this past weekend conducting interviews with candidates to fill the county's vacant finance director position.

But Tom VanCleave, the immediate past vice chairman of the county board, told Lauzen long hours are part of the job.

"The county board chairman's position is a full-time position, compensated accordingly," VanCleave said.

VanCleave spoke as a citizen. He lost his re-election bid in the primary last year.

Perhaps the most controversial part of Lauzen's deputy chairman plan was the partisan rotation it would implement. One year a Republican would be deputy chairman. The next year a Democrat would take over.

"I wanted to create a venue for possible bipartisan balance," Lauzen said. "Unfortunately, it was taken the opposite way."

The county board has not traditionally operated along partisan lines either in policy or voting blocks. But several board members said they saw a partisan appointment as the seed for division between the two major parties.

County board member Deb Allan said she supported the idea of a deputy chairman, but only if it was a nonpartisan role.

"There is nothing to be gained except power and glory," Allan said of moving toward partisanship. "We all know how that works."

Lauzen had been in favor of further debate on the deputy chairman spot, but said Thursday conversations with board members changed his mind.

"This ordinance is not a problem," Lauzen said. "I'm personally not interested in moving it forward. It's no big deal."

Board members suggested if Lauzen needs help in finding county officials to fill in for him at events he can't attend, all he has to do is ask which county board members are available. With that in mind, the committee tabled the initiative indefinitely. It is unlikely to be a topic moving forward.

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