HEBRON – When Hebron Village Board trustee Drew Georgi heard about Village President John Jacobson’s arrest, his first thought was, “Again?”
The 68-year-old was arrested Tuesday on drug and firearms charges after police said they found cocaine, drug paraphernalia and a shotgun and ammunition at his home after a March 17 incident when Jacobson was reportedly found unconscious in his home.
Before that, Jacobson faced drug charges during his 2013 campaign after police said they found crack cocaine in his vehicle during a traffic stop. After he was elected, Jacobson pleaded guilty to amended misdemeanor charges but was able to keep his office. He later faced charges for driving under the influence in Wisconsin in October 2013. His drug-related probation period ended in July 2014 without action from McHenry County prosecutors.
Since Jacobson’s initial charges, Georgi said there has always been talk about Jacobson possibly being involved in illegal activities.
“But it was rumored,” Georgi said Friday morning.
And after Jacobson’s most recent arrest, Georgi wants Jacobson out of office.
“If he doesn’t resign voluntarily, I’m going to try to get the other board members to restrict him, restrict his powers, limit him,” Georgi said.
Georgi said he’s had no contact with Jacobson or board members since Tuesday, except for an email senior trustee Mark Shepherd sent to Village Clerk Rose Smith-Miller on Tuesday morning. In the email, Shepherd asked village employees and trustees not to discuss personal information with the media, and to direct questions to himself or Smith-Miller, Georgi said.
“Basically, it was a gag order,” Georgi said. “As senior trustee, he was trying to tell everybody, including other board members and employees, ‘Don’t say a word.’ ”
The email from Shepherd said he would keep the village running smoothly in the meantime, Georgi said, and that Jacobson was still president.
The Northwest Herald requested Thursday under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act staff and trustee emails regarding Jacobson from March 17 to the present.
Other trustees and Jacobson did not return multiple requests for comment. Two staff members who were at the Hebron Village Hall on Thursday afternoon declined or said they were not available for comment.
But Thursday morning, many in Hazel’s Diner and Bakery were commenting on Jacobson’s arrest, employee and Hebron resident Kate Sturtevant said.
“He’s the president of our town, and I feel like it’s sad because it’s such a good town,” Sturtevant sad. “It just gives it a bad name.”
The close-knit town with a population of a little more than 1,100 people has safe streets and a downtown unaffected by time, said Hazel’s Diner owner and Hebron resident Debra Mindham.
“It just isn’t a shock anymore,” Mindham said regarding Jacobson’s charges, “And I just don’t know how we as a community still have him in office.”
As far as why Jacobson was elected in the first place, “It was a vote against Frank [Beatty],” Georgi said, and several others agreed.
Janet Ratajczak, Hebron resident and owner of Prairie Avenue Antiques and The Tack Exchange, said the village was happy to have someone step up and run against the former long-time village president, Beatty, who some blame for the decision in 2005 to build a new $4.5 million wastewater treatment plant. Paying bonds for the new facility and a lack of growth have caused residents’ water bills to rise significantly, Ratajczak said.
She said it’s best the village replaces Jacobson as village president, but anytime she has worked with him for business, she said he acted “appropriate.”
“And I feel bad for John,” Ratajczak said. “I think he’s just an individual who’s taken a wrong turn in life and needs some help.”
At least two people in Hebron declined to talk about Jacobson on Thursday because they said they were friends with him, or had known him growing up in Hebron. A patron at Hoops Sports Bar and Grill said he’d seen Jacobson at the bar before, and he seemed to be a “nice guy.”
As far as what happens next for the village, multiple business owners and residents said they didn’t know what was going on within the village government.
In response to what can people do moving forward, Georgi said they can vote.
“Not only do the people of Hebron, the people in McHenry County have to realize that they need to register to vote,” Georgi said, “they need to come out and vote, and they need to research what they’re voting for, or this is going to keep happening.”