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Kenyon: Real issues and avoiding character assassination

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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The following is an open letter to Kane County Board members.

This letter will serve to set the record straight regarding allegations wielded against my family and me from our newly elected County Board chairman, Chris Lauzen, and his associates (Feb. 9, Kane County Chronicle). Mr. Lauzen is using these allegations as an attempt to draw your attention away from the real issues affecting this County Board. Never, at any time, has my family, or myself, attempted to gain influence from my position on the Kane County Board.

In 1996, the executive director of the Kane County Forest Preserve District approached the Kenyon family about a parcel of land we owned near South Elgin. The mature oak trees, wet lands and open field would be preserved for generations, if owned by the forest preserve. It was under these conditions that the Kenyon family agreed to sell the land. Then, as the student population of District U-46 outgrew the high schools in the area, the school district looked for land near South Elgin. The parcel that the school district was interested in was large enough, and the Kenyon family was approached by the school board. We were willing to sell that land so that South Elgin children could have their own school. Construction began in 2001. Once started, the district realized that it would need access for sewer and water. The Kenyon family was approached once again for the easement. The easement was freely given to U-46 at no cost. With the new high school and added traffic, a stoplight at Route 25 was needed and the state made it happen. Additional road widening was needed, and again the Kenyon family was asked to cooperate. We did so willingly. A developer bought the land for the state, based upon their previous sale.

I was first elected to the Kane County Board in 2004. My County Board position had no influence on any of the previous mentioned land transactions.

At the end of 2012, the Kane County Highway Department asked for a construction easement on Plank Road in Burlington Township. The Kenyon family accepted the Kane County Highway Department’s offer of $300 for the easement. As a County Board member, I abstained from voting on the issue, and the easement sale was unanimously approved by the rest of the Kane County Board members. If the money from that transaction was divided, my personal share would have been $90, less expenses. In every instance mentioned above, the Kenyon family was approached to sell, and cooperated, with the government.

My experience as a board member has taught me the value of cooperation and civility. Upon his installation as County Board chairman, Mr. Lauzen asked the County Board to focus on four things, one of which was treating each other respectfully. Unfortunately, the chairman has not heeded his own advice. We have a county chairman who believes in personally attacking County Board members, which detracts from the real issue. At the time, the issue in question was whether a certain person should be hired, based on his/her personal associations with the chairman.

Character assassinations should never become a substitute for discussing any issue, based on its merits. As leaders, we cannot allow this type of behavior to continue. And as a board, we should not allow anyone to drag us down that terrible road.

• Michael J. Kenyon is a Kane County Board member. He represents District 16, which includes South Elgin.

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