Opponent blasts Lake County Board incumbent Terry Wilke for 'questionable behavior'

  • John Frazier, left, and Terry Wilke, right, are candidates for Lake County Board Dist 16 in the 2020 election.

    John Frazier, left, and Terry Wilke, right, are candidates for Lake County Board Dist 16 in the 2020 election.

 
 
Updated 10/2/2020 5:21 PM
The original version of this story improperly stated where Terry Wilke lives.

Despite criticisms of "double-dipping" by his opponent and calls from the Lake County Republican chairman to resign his seat for "bilking taxpayers," Lake County Board incumbent Terry Wilke said he will continue to fight for reelection to his seat on Nov. 3 and will seek another term this spring as Avon Township supervisor.

County board challenger John Frazier, in a Daily Herald editorial board endorsement interview this week with Wilke, joined other Republicans in blasting the Democrat for a series of township actions and for collecting almost $1,000 in mileage reimbursement from the county for a vehicle acquired for township use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's not a secret Mr. Wilke was involved in a lot of different questionable behavior that questions his integrity and it is very disappointing," Frazier said.

Republicans also criticized Wilke, who has been on the county board since 2008, for holding two elected positions at the same time. Wilke makes more than $41,000 for his county board work and more than $59,000 for serving as Avon Township supervisor.

Wilke, a Round Lake Beach resident who represents Lake County District 16, denied accusations that surfaced months ago that he improperly bought a vacant house and vehicle on behalf of Avon Township. Wilke said he made the purchases under the "direction" of the township board.

Wilke said in 2018 the township board gave him direction to spend $5,000 on a car for him to use because the mileage reimbursement cost to continue using his personal car would likely exceed that amount. He pointed out that the township budget had a $5,000 line item for vehicles and provided a copy of the agreement he said township board members discussed and agreed to.

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Frazier also accused Wilke of improperly buying a house for $1. Wilke said he bought the house at 320 Bellevue Drive in Round Lake Park for that amount intending it to be the first in a township revitalization program. He said records that prove the board gave him direction to buy the home have been destroyed, and he believes the destruction was intentional.

Wilke claimed in an email Monday that Avon Township Clerk Jeanne Kearby had been "adulterating the township board meeting minutes and destroying the recordings so no one could challenge her version of events."

Kearby flatly denied Wilke's accusations when reached for comment Tuesday. She said she has never been accused of altering written records in her career as a public servant.

"Not only did I not tamper with the minutes, my minutes are extensive," Kearby said. "His accusation of destroying records is ludicrous."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As for claims that he "deliberately" collected county mileage payments for a township vehicle, Wilke said all county board members are automatically reimbursed for mileage. He said when he discovered this he paid the county back and no longer accepts any mileage reimbursement.

Lake County Republican Party Chairman Mark Shaw has called for Wilke to resign.

Wilke dismissed the accusations as political "nonsense."

"It's been through the (Lake County Board) ethics committee and state's attorney's office and they agree it is nonsense," Wilke said.

Wilke defended his choice to keep both elected jobs, saying his township work gives him a better understanding of the issues his constituents face.

"I plan to continue both, it was never a conflict and never has been for anyone who has done it," Wilke said.

Frazier, however, characterized Wilke's decision as "double-dipping."

"He cannot represent both parties at same time, so has to recuse himself and so he ends up not representing the people," Frazier said.

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