Local Election

Anti-corruption referendum added to McHenry County Board agenda

Canceled committee meeting jeopardized question’s future

Scott Gessert
Scott Gessert

WOODSTOCK – An advisory referendum aimed at marshaling support for anti-corruption laws to remove money from politics has a second lease on life for the Nov. 8 ballot.

The cancellation of the McHenry County Board committee that was next set to debate the referendum at first prevented it from appearing on the full board agenda Tuesday, which is the last County Board meeting before the Aug. 22 deadline to put referendums on the ballot. But a behind-the-scenes push got it added for a Tuesday vote.

Woodstock resident Scott Gessert, who has asked the board during its past several meetings to advance the question, said he was happy that the question will have a chance, but was upset that it almost didn’t. He is the McHenry County leader of the national grass-roots group Represent.Us, which is pushing nationwide for anti-corruption legislation.

“I am concerned that it took such an effort to get a simple advisory referendum through committee. I’m looking forward to the community coming forward to show their support for this initiative,” Gessert said.

If put on the ballot by the County Board, voters in one yes-or-no question will be asked whether they support prohibiting politicians from taking campaign money from special interests they regulate; increasing campaign funding transparency; allowing voters to contribute to candidates through a tax-rebate voucher; placing limits on how much super-PACs can raise and spend; and prohibiting elected officials and their senior staff from participating in lobbying activity for five years after leaving office.

The question mirrors one that appeared on ballots last year in Winnebago and DeKalb counties – voters approved them both. A similar effort is underway to get the question put before Boone County voters.

While the question passed through the Management Services Committee on a 6-0 vote last month, members amended the resolution to send it to the Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which deals with how federal and state initiatives affect the county, before proceeding to the full board. But the committee’s Friday meeting was canceled because not enough people could attend, Chairman Nick Provenzano, R-McHenry, said.

Provenzano agreed Friday to allow it to go forward to the full County Board, seeing as how it already had a positive recommendation from another committee. He said there was nothing afoot in his meeting cancellation to prevent the nonbinding question from moving forward.

Management Services Committee Chairwoman Tina Hill, R-Woodstock, said Friday she is glad that the group’s request will get a proper hearing. She pushed Friday to get the question added to next Tuesday’s agenda.

“Let’s have a debate on it,” Hill said.

The County Board already has put an advisory question on the ballot asking voters whether the board’s size should be reduced from its current size of 24 members.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the county Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

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