Kelly Liebmann: Candidate profile, McHenry County coroner
Two candidates will be on the ballot for McHenry County coroner, Republican Michael R. Rein and Libertarian Kelly Liebmann.
Rein is a chiropractor, Marine Corps veteran and former construction company vice president. Liebmann is a Greenwood Township trustee and former 911 dispatch operator who has been active in county and civic affairs.
The candidates were asked to respond to a series of questions. Here are the responses.
Q. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
A. I have already brought matters of grave concern to the board and meaningful changes were taken as a direct result because of my actions. Two of my friends were killed in a motorcycle accident at River Road and Charles J. Miller Road on April 9, 2017. While Dennis and Tanya's family and many friends were distraught with grief and anger, I went to action.
I am a longtime resident of McHenry County and was aware the intersection had been reconfigured a few years earlier.
Because of my perseverance, McHenry Division of Transportation changed the traffic signal pattern at the intersection. Since the reconfiguration, only three crashes with injuries have occurred at the intersection, and thankfully no other deaths have occurred. My dedication has saved countless residents from injury or death, and I will continue to make that a priority if chosen to serve as your elected coroner.
Q. What special experience and professional qualifications does a person need to be an effective coroner? What experiences and qualifications do you possess that will provide a foundation for your success in the office?
A. All residents and registered voters of McHenry County 18 years or older have an equal opportunity to run for elected coroner, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliation. An effective coroner should have administrative experience, knowledge of law and be kind, caring and sympathetic.
I attended college for Police Science, which included courses in criminal and civil law. I was previously employed as a 911 dispatcher and worked directly with law enforcement, fire, and rescue agencies. I currently serve as Greenwood Township Trustee and the treasurer for the McHenry County Libertarian Party.
I have a 20-plus year background in management and over a decade of experience in administration. I have made thousands of phone calls, managed and coordinated hundreds of people, under multiple projects, over the course of months in order to be successful with my duties at my current job. I am ready for the challenges of the duty of elected coroner.
Q. Describe your position on transparency and public service in the coroner's office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A. In pursuit of open and accountable government and the fundamental philosophy of our constitutional form of government, every person is entitled to complete or partial information regarding the actions and affairs of their government.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires all records in the possession of a public body be open to inspection or copying. Illinois Open Meetings Act requires meetings of public bodies be open to the public except under certain specific situations.
My position on transparency is apparent from my actions and willingness to publicly confront unlawful governmental behavior as an activist. I am the plaintiff in two lawsuits against McHenry County for its conduct.
Denying information that is not exempt under FOIA and violating OMA laws by not allowing public comment prior to a vote are violations of Illinois law. I have been called "extreme" by local politicians for my belief in, and pursuit of, open government. Labeling and promoting people as such results in less public participation and hinders more people from getting involved in civic action.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A. Now more than ever, residents need an elected, not appointed, coroner who can ensure death investigations are completely independent from the partisan sheriff and state's attorney offices, local politicians, and county administration.
An elected coroner must follow the law but can direct their office as they determine, and I am running as a Libertarian to ensure autonomy and due process.
An elected coroner is separate from, but works in conjunction with, county administration and works for the residents. An appointed coroner is completely reliant on administration and politicians. An appointed coroner is susceptible to intimidation and retaliation, and the office could easily become bloated and filled with patronage.
As an independent Libertarian elected coroner, I would be accountable to the people. I have compassion and a desire to bring hope during tragic times, and that is something we need right now.
Q. Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the coroner's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A. The most pressing issue regarding resources allocated to the coroner's office is the referendum on the November ballot asking voters if our currently elected coroner should be abolished and converted to an appointed corner position.
If the referendum passes, an appointed coroner will no longer be elected by voters or responsible to residents and taxpayers; an appointed corner will be selected by bureaucrats and politicians.
As of Sept. 1, the draft job description for the appointed coroner created and developed by county administration has no residency requirement. One legal requirement of an elected coroner is they must reside in the county in which they serve. An elected coroner is a member of our community, familiar with the county, its cities and farms, roads, roundabouts, and traffic.
When a resident needs consoling, it is the elected coroner they can call, not an unknown bureaucrat living outside McHenry County.
With no residency requirement, an appointed coroner would have little motivation to keep their budget flat or reduce spending to alleviate county property taxes. I urge residents to vote NO to an appointed coroner and keep an elected coroner.