DuPage County Election Commission director abruptly resigns

  • Joseph Sobecki resigned Tuesday as executive director of the embattled DuPage County Election Commission.

    Joseph Sobecki resigned Tuesday as executive director of the embattled DuPage County Election Commission.

 
 
Updated 7/18/2018 12:59 PM

The executive director of the embattled DuPage County Election Commission, Joseph Sobecki, has abruptly resigned.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Sobecki notified the three-person panel overseeing the commission that he was stepping down effective immediately. He gave no reason.

 

"I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as the executive director for the DuPage County Election Commission," Sobecki wrote. "I have spent virtually my entire professional career with the DuPage County Election Commission in various capacities."

Cathy Ficker Terrill, chairwoman of the election commission board, said Sobecki told commissioners about his decision during the executive session of Tuesday's board meeting. She said there was no previous indication he was planning to step down.

"There was nothing that happened in the public portion of the meeting, other than we conducted business as usual," Ficker Terrill said.

Sobecki's departure came hours after county board Chairman Dan Cronin announced that Gov. Bruce Rauner will be in Wheaton next week to sign legislation giving DuPage the power to disband its election commission.

Cronin said Rauner is scheduled on Monday to sign legislation amending the Election Code to allow the county board to dissolve the commission and transfer its functions to the county clerk's office effective Jan. 1.

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The state law change was proposed in the wake of serious problems during the past three elections, including a blunder that delayed results for hours during the March primary.

In the meantime, Ficker Terrill said Suzanne Fahnestock has been appointed the interim executive director "to continue the work that we're doing to improve things and enhance things as we move forward to prepare for the upcoming election."

Fahnestock was hired by the commission in May as the division manger of elections. She previously served as the chief deputy clerk and director of elections for Kane County.

"The board is appreciative of the years of service Mr. Sobecki has provided to the commission," Ficker Terrill said. "The board feels comfortable that she (Fahnestock) will provide the necessary leadership as we prepare for the upcoming November general election."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ficker Terrill said she had a Wednesday morning meeting with the commission staff to inform them about what happened.

"They all indicated a willingness to step up and work hard together as we get ready for the November election," she said.

Even with the consolidation, Ficker Terrill said a search will be conducted for a permanent executive director.

"It's a permanent position that will just have a different title after the transition in January," Ficker Terrill said.

Sobecki was paid roughly $121,000 a year.

He had more than 18 years of experience at the commission, including five as assistant executive director. He developed the first early voting voter verification software and Election Day Help Desk system. In January 2017, he became the interim executive director when the longtime head of the agency, Robert Saar, retired.

Sobecki was named the executive director of the commission in June 2017.

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