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It's Time to Close a Loophole

On April 13, 1999, an election was held in Roscoe Village, Illinois. Five candidates were running for three positions on the Roscoe Village board and another four candidates were running for the position of President of Roscoe Village. One of the four candidates that was campaigning to be elected to office of President was also at the same time serving the position of a village board member with two years left on his term.

That same board member [Lowell Smith] was successfully elected to the position of President. This caused his board position to be open in addition to the three seats that were being filled by election. Instead of honoring the election results by taking the village board candidate with the next highest number of votes, the Roscoe Village board decided to ask for resumes to fill the position. The Village President chose to have the Zoning Committee give the board a recommendation following interviews of those who turned in resumes.

Imagine my surprise [and that of village voters] when the vacated board position was filled, not only with someone who did not turn in the requested resume, but someone who sat on the interviewing committee.

There are two reasons why this does not make sense to me. First, since it happened at election time, I personally felt that the voters had expressed their wishes and the board should have honored them. Second, a person being considered for a position should never be allowed to be an interviewer of other candidates. Now, the person they chose may be a wonderful person and do a great job but in my opinion the procedure the Roscoe Village board had decided to use, while legal, was unethical!

Oddly enough, this is not the first time this situation has happened in our community. Two years ago, in the school board election for Hononegah High School [Rockton], a newly elected candidate attended one, [yes, I said one] meeting and turned in his resignation. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Now, the problem with his comment, is that this particular person served for twelve years on the school board having been re-elected many times. He knew the commitment involved. Some people speculate that he wanted to be elected only to assure that two of the candidates would not be elected. [There were four positions open and six people running.]

After he turned in his notice, the school board held a meeting where they again accepted resumes and chose someone of their choice. Now, I don't know the person they chose well enough to make any personal assessment as to whether he will be a voice of the people or a "choice of the board." I do believe however, that the person next in line as the voter's selection would have been the more appropriate choice.

What is done - is done. But what I propose is that it should not be repeated. It will probably take a law to make a change because local politicians can be as manipulative as the big guys - maybe more so. And if they can appoint someone of their own choosing instead of someone the voters selected, they will almost always do so.

A good directive would include the following:
In order to insure that our communities are governed by persons chosen by the voters, any vacated board position within three months following an election will result in the vacated position being offered first [and in order] of the next highest votes received in the recent election for those candidates that ran for the said position. If there were no other persons receiving votes or the qualifying candidates decline to accept the vacated position, then and only then can the position be filled by board appointment.

Connie Eccles
CEO of ComPortOne

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