County Board puts brakes on deputy chairman proposal

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen received a split decision on his plan to change the structure of the County Board.

Tuesday, the County Board approved a proposal from Lauzen to create two County Board committees and allow for co-chairmen to oversee certain committees.

However, the County Board put the brakes on Lauzen’s proposal to create a deputy County Board chairman.

Lauzen had proposed amending county ordinance to create a deputy chairman to essentially act at the chairman’s request to marshal support for issues and positions supported by the County Board chairman.

According to language presented to the board, the deputy chairman also would “take the place of the County Board chairman at official ceremonies” that Lauzen cannot attend.

Language presented to the County Board on Tuesday would require the deputy chairman to be a member of the County Board, and limit the deputy chairman’s term of office to one year.

The deputy chairman would not earn additional salary or benefits.

While the idea had breezed through a County Board committee, it met with opposition from board members.

County Board member Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles, criticized the proposal, saying the deputy chairman post would correspond to the legislative position of “whip,” which is awarded to a partisan within Congress or a state legislature to secure support for the positions of party leadership.

“That sounds very Springfield-like to me,” Davoust said, alluding to Lauzen’s two decades as a state senator.

Other board members sought to modify the proposal.

Board member Christina Castro, D-Elgin, asked the board to require that the political party identity of the deputy chairman change from year to year. So, while the initial deputy chairman might be a Republican, when the post comes up from reappointment in 2014, the deputy chairman would need to be a Democrat.

Others on the board, however, supported the proposal.

County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, said the position was largely ceremonial, allowing “a county presence” at events Lauzen cannot attend for scheduling reasons.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Frasz said.

Ultimately, the board opted to send the proposal back to the County Board Administration Committee for further discussion, with the intention of bringing the matter back to the full County Board in February.

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Jan Schlictmann at a Geneva law firm.

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