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Our view: One paid public office is enough

We are in favor of a change in state law that would prevent citizens from holding two paid public offices at the same time.

McHenry County voters will be asked in an advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot whether elected officials in Illinois should continue to be allowed to hold more than one public office at a time.

While the Nov. 6 ballot is advisory only and covers just McHenry County (although the same advisory referendum is on the ballot in DuPage County), perhaps if enough voters answer “no,” a message will be sent to lawmakers in Springfield.

After learning about the DuPage County referendum, government watchdog Bob Anderson of Wonder Lake successfully petitioned the McHenry County Board to get it on the ballot here.

The DuPage County Board put the referendum on the ballot after two candidates for the board, the current mayors of Elmhurst and Burr Ridge, said they would continue as mayors even if they were elected to the board.

State law currently allows the practice as long as there is not a conflict of interest in holding the two offices.

But holding more than one office can limit the amount of time an officeholder spends performing the duties of each office. It’s also a way for someone to double-dip on public salaries, pensions and other benefits.

We feel less strongly about this issue for uncompensated public offices, such as school boards, parks boards, etc., especially in areas with smaller populations where the number of potential candidates is limited.

But we encourage voters to take notice of this advisory referendum, and vote “no.”

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