Lake County Board candidates differ on whether Lawlor should resign
Democratic Lake County Board candidate Jessica Vealitzek said board Chairman Aaron Lawlor should resign rather than continue to collect a roughly $101,000 salary and benefits while he is on an extended leave of absence.
Her Republican opponent for the 10th District seat, incumbent Charles "Chuck" Bartels, disagreed.
Vealitzek and Bartels fielded questions about issues facing the county board during a joint interview with the Daily Herald. They'll face off in the Nov. 6 election.
Lawlor, a Vernon Hills Republican, announced in late July he was taking time off to seek treatment for an unspecified drug addiction. He later said he wouldn't seek re-election to the 18th District seat in November.
Documents reviewed by the Daily Herald showed Lawlor -- a board member since 2009 and its chairman since 2012 -- repeatedly used his county-issued credit card for personal purchases. Even though he reimbursed the county for some purchases, that's a violation of county policy.
Illinois State Police are investigating.
Lawlor hasn't responded to interview requests.
Vealitzek, a Hawthorn Woods resident making her first bid for public office, said Lawlor should resign because he misused his county credit card.
"I think a board chairman should be held to a higher standard," she said. "If you misuse taxpayer dollars, you should step down."
The extended leave of absence shouldn't be a factor in whether Lawlor remains on the county payroll, Vealitzek said.
"If you are embroiled in these allegations ... you can't do the job," she said.
Most Lake County Board members collect a $43,018 annual salary. The chairman receives a $90,931 base salary, plus more cash for auto expenses and other services for a total of nearly $101,000.
Bartels, of Mundelein, said Lawlor should be able to finish his final term. He called it "a difficult question" because of Lawlor's admitted addiction.
"It's a health issue," Bartels said. "I would let it run its course."
Even so, Bartels said it'd be fine if Lawlor stepped down because board member Carol Calabresa is serving as interim chairwoman in his absence.
After the public disclosure of Lawlor's actions, Lake County officials announced they intend to change procedures for credit card usage. Some board members and candidates, including Bartels and Vealitzek, want to eliminate the cards.
The 10th District serves parts of Mundelein, Hawthorn Woods, Round Lake Park, Wauconda and Long Grove.