Hill taps Hobson to fill RTA seat

WOODSTOCK – McHenry County Board Chairwoman Tina Hill has nominated Lakewood business owner and former County Board member Blake Hobson as her choice to fill the county’s seat on the Regional Transportation Board.

Hill, R-Woodstock, announced Monday that she chose Hobson over Dennis Adams of McHenry. A panel of four County Board members chose the two finalists Friday after interviewing the 10 residents who applied for the job.

If approved by the full County Board on Dec. 3, Hobson as of Jan. 1 would replace GOP insider Al Jourdan, who is not seeking another five-year term. Jourdan’s term expired back in April, but he has continued to serve at Hill’s behest until a successor is put in place.

Hill cited Hobson’s background as a business owner and community leader in picking him over Adams, who has similar credentials. She also pointed out that Hobson has made the time for months to attend RTA meetings to become more familiar with the issues. The 16-member RTA Board has financial oversight of the three Chicago mass-transit boards of Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority.

“Blake has been attending the [RTA] meetings for the past five months, so he’s ready to hit the ground running,” Hill said.

Hobson, who owns Huntley manufacturing company Image Industries, said Monday he is “very flattered and very honored” to be chosen by Hill, pending County Board approval.

“My plan is to make sure that McHenry County is not a tax donor to the city of Chicago,” Hobson said. “We want to get an equal amount of services for the tax dollars we contribute to the RTA, first and foremost.”

Hobson held a County Board seat for about six months in 2006, representing District 3 after he was selected to fill the remaining term of former member Ann Kate, who moved out of state. But the Republican Party chose to run someone else for the seat in the election. Hobson has been elected in the past as a Lakewood village trustee and as a Nunda Township trustee.

Jourdan was appointed as the county’s RTA representative in 2008. He spent 30 years as McHenry County Republican Party chairman between 1968 and 1998, and about three of those years as state chairman.

Jourdan’s RTA term expired in April, but the appointment process has been delayed twice because of political turmoil at the mass-transit agencies.

Chicago’s mass-transit agencies have come under serious scrutiny in recent years, primarily over controversy and allegations of corruption and mismanagement at Metra, but also because of resignations at the RTA Board and whether it was negligent in its handling of the most recent Metra scandal. The CTA has come under fire in recent weeks over the numerous glitches that have plagued the rollout of the new Ventra fare card system.

An RTA Board member receives a $25,000 salary. But a new law eliminates the pension and insurance benefits that previously came with appointment to the four mass-transit boards.

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