County Board gets a new look
GENEVA – The next time the full County Board convenes, it undoubtedly will have a new look.
But veteran County Board members believe the board also could have a very different feel.
Tuesday, Kane County voters made their choices in each of the county’s 24 board districts. Republicans continue to dominate the board, capturing 16 of the 22 seats that were on the November ballot.
Of the 22 board members elected, seven of them will be new faces, replacing either defeated incumbents or board members who opted not to seek re-election.
Kane County voters also handed Republican state Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora a big win in the race for County Board chairman. He will replace outgoing Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.
McConnaughay, of St. Charles, was elected as a Republican to the Illinois state Senate on Tuesday, after choosing not to seek re-election to a third term as County Board chairman.
Lauzen had campaigned on bringing change to the county government complex, where he said a “pay-to-play” system of “cronyism” reigned. He blamed the problems on McConnaughay.
The new board members and Lauzen will take office in December.
Several County Board members who secured new terms in office Tuesday said they believed the tone on the board – a governing body that has been torn with sharp political disagreements in recent months – could change with the arrival of a new County Board chairman and an influx of new faces and ideas.
County Board member Melisa Taylor, R-Sugar Grove, who was a staunch Lauzen supporter, said she believed the next few years would bring “a level of respect” to the County Board that has been lacking.
“It will be nothing but refreshing,” Taylor said.
She said she believes Lauzen’s administration will be “more proactive and less resistant” than that of McConnaughay.
Others discounted the rancor among board members that at times characterized public board discussions.
County Board member Phil Lewis, R-St. Charles, and board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, said they believed the sharp divisions were the result of personality and politically-driven disagreements.
“Many of the players who were involved in those are not on the board anymore,” Lewis said.
All board members who responded to requests for comment said they believed the board was capable of working together.
“In the end, I think we’re all there to do what’s best for the county and for the taxpayer,” Donahue said.
County Board member Christina Castro, D-Elgin, said she still expected discussion and debate of issues.
“I think we can do great things together,” Castro said. “But at the same time, I think our constituents expect us to have their backs and not just rubber stamp things.”
And Donahue and County Board member John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, noted the dynamics of simply governing the county can present challenges to anyone seeking to impose a predetermined agenda on a body as diverse as the County Board.
“The facts are we have statutes and ordinances we operate under, and those are going to continue to govern a lot of what we do, and what we can do,” Donahue said.
Hoscheit said he hoped the County Board can put its political disagreements behind and work together.
However, he said Lauzen, like any incoming County Board chairman, “has his work cut out for him” running day-to-day operations at the county government; he will deal with board members, county employees and other elected county officials who run autonomous offices outside the chairman’s direct control.
But Hoscheit said he believes Lauzen has the traits needed to build the relationships that he will need to succeed.
“He ran a good campaign, and was very motivated to succeed,” Hoscheit said. “I think it’s an indication he’s willing to put in the hard work.
“I think the chairman can do a good job.”