Kane County seeks new Metra board rep after resignation of recent appointee
Less than a month after a unanimous vote named Matt Hanson as Kane County's new representative on the Metra board of directors, the former county board representative has resigned.
Hanson verified his resignation late Monday after county officials put out a call for people to apply to become his replacement. He said a Kane County state's attorney's office review of state law governing Metra board appointments indicates Hanson's current job as an engineer for the BNSF Railway makes him ineligible for the position.
"I'm disappointed," Hanson said. "I don't believe I should be precluded from serving on the Metra Board. But the goal is to serve, so I shouldn't have to fight my way onto the board. People would be very skeptical of your intentions to serve in a fight like that. It would be counterproductive."
State law says no Metra board director shall be "an officer, a member of the board of directors or trustees or an employee of any service board or transportation agency."
Hanson noted the irony of the county board unanimously approving his appointment to the Metra board in February, in part, because of his employment with the BNSF Railway and knowledge of the state's rail transportation system. He agreed the letter of the law appears to make him ineligible, but he called that rule "arcane" in its application because it creates a situation where mostly retirees or people without a base of knowledge to make informed decisions can serve on the Metra board.
Hanson said he offered to forego the $15,000 stipend Metra directors receive to help relieve even the perception of a conflict. But, ultimately, there was no clear way to taking a seat on the Metra board without a legal battle. Hanson said at no time did any Metra officials contact him to express concerns about a conflict or oppose his appointment.
It's not clear what triggered the state's attorney's review of Hanson's appointment after the fact. The state statute goes on to say employees of "any municipality, county or any other unit of local government" are also ineligible. Two current Metra directors also serve as elected officials. Rodney Craig is the village president of Hanover Park, a position that includes a $20,722 salary. Don De Graff is the village president of South Holland. That village's website did not have any compensation information listed for any employees or officials.
Kane County officials will accept applications for Hanson's replacement through March 19. Applications can be emailed to CPierog@kanecoboard.org. Interviews will occur the week of March 22. A recommendation will come to the county board on April 13.