WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board will hold a special meeting next week to appoint someone to fill out the remainder of former member Andrew Gasser’s term.
The special meeting will take place after the County Board’s regular monthly Committee of the Whole meeting July 13 – the regular July 18 voting meeting is too late to comply with a requirement that the chairman advance a candidate within 60 days of the resignation taking effect.
Gasser, a Republican from Fox River Grove, stepped down after his election as Algonquin Township highway commissioner. He represented County Board District 1, which covers eastern and southern Algonquin Township and southeastern Grafton Township, and includes all or parts of Cary, Fox River Grove, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Huntley, Trout Valley and Barrington Hills.
County Board Chairman Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said he will interview all six candidates separately on Thursday. Candidates had to submit a résumé and a lengthy questionnaire.
Franks has maintained that the system he has put in place is meant to find the best candidate and take the politics out of the process, aside from the requirement that Gasser’s successor must be a Republican.
“My priority is finding someone who will bring the same energy and dedication and commitment to the job as Andrew Gasser,” Franks said.
Interviewees will include Ralph Sesso and David Stieper, two Barrington Hills men who were nominated last month by the McHenry County Republican Party to succeed Gasser. However, Franks said Thursday that both will be treated the same as the other four candidates, and that there are no frontrunners among the six.
Under County Board rules, the chairman submits a candidate for the full board to approve to fill a vacancy. But unlike vacancies under past chairmen, who were Republicans like most or all of the board and gave extensive deference to the candidate chosen by the county GOP, this is the first vacancy under a Democratic chairman who was popularly elected by the voters.
The eight-page questionnaire put together by Franks asks about background and criminal history, includes the statement of economic interest and conflict of interest forms that County Board members are required to submit, and includes the questionnaires submitted to board candidates in the 2016 election by the Northwest Herald and the Daily Herald.
Franks said that he has been consulting with former Republican board chairmen Mike Tryon and Ken Koehler as to what to look for in candidates, and will do so again once he conducts the interviews. Tryon served six years as chairman, and Koehler eight.
“I want the opinions of people who held this office before, and know what’s in the best interests of the county,” Franks said.
Franks said he will make his nominee public early next week, giving County Board members adequate time to vet the candidate and his or her qualifications.
The 24-member County Board – all but one of whom are Republicans – cannot advance their own candidate should they reject Franks’ pick. It would be up to Franks to advance another at a later date.
Whoever ends up in the seat will fill out the remaining 16 months of Gasser’s term.
The special meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. or immediately after the Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, whichever comes later. The County Board meets at the county Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.