The two Algonquin Township officials supporting the abolishment of the highway department came prepared with written statements.
Both Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser and Trustee Rachael Lawrence took time to share their pitches with board members and residents at a Wednesday night meeting, where they delivered addresses in support of a binding referendum on the November ballot that would give voters to power to collapse the road district and transfer its responsibilities to the township.
Gasser stepped up to lectern, he said, not as a road commissioner, but as a Fox River Grove resident.
“I ask that you approve the proposed resolution to abolish the Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner and bring it under the auspices of the township supervisor and the board,” Gasser said. “There’s no need for mudslinging, placing blame or political paybacks; this is all about good, honest, open and transparent government.”
Gasser turned his focus to his own highway department, which he said “has reformed itself enormously since May 15, 2017” – the day he took the office from his predecessor, Bob Miller.
The first-term highway commissioner listed some of his road district’s “remarkable accomplishments,” including:
• Putting bills online
• Creating a new credit card policy.
• Ending “miscellaneous pay” practices.
• Creating an anti-nepotism policy.
• Cutting taxes.
Gasser attacked the “elite McHenry County political class” – a group that uses “backdoor connections,” he said, to grandstand with news releases and manipulate media to advance their agenda.
“Do not fall victim to the selfish McHenry County political class, but instead trust the voters of Algonquin Township,” Gasser said. “Please pass this resolution.”
At 8:56 p.m. Wednesday, more than an hour after Lawrence’s motion to read aloud and adopt the referendum resolution failed, Gasser posted a video of his public statement to his Facebook page and solicited comments: “Would appreciate my political friends listening to my speech and giving me feedback!” Gasser wrote. “Thanks!”
To Lawrence, discussion of the referendum and the philosophy driving it comes down to the Declaration of Independence.
“’Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” she read aloud at Wednesday’s meeting. “that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.’”
House Bill 607, the law allowing residents to abolish a road district at the polls with a majority vote, was not passed with the intent of cutting costs, Lawrence said.
“The law itself states its intent as reducing layers of government and increasing efficiency,” Lawrence said. “My reason for supporting this referendum is primarily because I believe the voters should have a fundamental right to self-governance.”
Lawrence characterized the discussion as “long overdue.”
“The motives of anyone wishing to deny the people their voice on this issue should be carefully questioned,” she said.