Arguably the toughest decision that McHenry County voters must face when they go to the polls Nov. 6 is how to vote on a referendum that, if approved, would fundamentally change the county’s form of government.
The referendum asks voters whether they want to create an executive form of government for the county.
Under the current form of county government, voters in six districts each elect four representatives to the McHenry County Board. Every two years, the 24 County Board members then select their chairman. The board also hires and fires a county administrator, who oversees the day-to-day operations of county government.
Under an executive form of government, voters across the county would elect an executive at large. The executive runs day-to-day operations of the county, has veto power over County Board votes, and has other powers that the current board chairman does not have.
In Illinois, only Will County currently operates under the executive form of government.
The Northwest Herald’s Editorial Board plans to make a recommendation on the referendum, but it still is gathering information.
Voters don’t have to wait for the newspaper to gather their own information, however.
Residents are invited to a free community forum on the referendum at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room B170 of the conference center building at McHenry County College.
State Rep. Jack Franks, who gathered the signatures needed to get the item placed on the ballot, will present arguments in favor of the executive form of government. State Rep. Mike Tryon, a former County Board chairman, will offer reasons why voters should reject it. Both also will answer questions.
We’ve been in favor of a referendum asking voters whether they preferred popularly electing the County Board chairman, rather than ceding that responsibility to the board. But we still are learning about what the executive referendum would mean for the county if it passes. We expect many readers are also.
If you don’t know yet how you’re going to vote on this ballot question, we urge you to attend the forum.