McHenry Township has a new trustee, and some area residents are deeply upset about it.
Steve Verr was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by former Republican Trustee Bill Cunningham during a special meeting Thursday at McHenry Township Hall, 3703 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg.
About a dozen residents attended the meeting to decry the appointment and voice their concerns about the board’s conduct.
The board voted, 3-1, for Verr, with Supervisor Craig Adams in opposition.
At a special meeting Monday night, township officials interviewed three candidates interested in filling Cunningham’s seat after he moved to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Those candidates were JoAnne Neumann, Mark Jaeger and Verr. Both Neumann and Jaeger interviewed with the board in an open forum. Verr requested that his interview take place in a private executive session.
Although three candidates remained on the board’s list to interview for the job, Trustees Bob Anderson and Mike Rakestraw later called for Thursday’s special meeting to name a replacement. Both men are vocal supporters of Verr.
However, Adams and some residents interested in taking the job have accused board members of orchestrating a backroom political deal to appoint Verr, an attorney and former chairman of the McHenry Township Republican Party.
Verr was not one of the four candidates recommended by the McHenry Township Republican Party to fill the vacant seat. Still, township officials put out a call for candidates, and Verr applied.
“I’m not necessarily against any one candidate, but I feel like the process should have been followed,” Adams said, adding that a handful of candidates were being considered. “We should have interviewed all the candidates and made a decision. That’s where I’m coming from. There’s still time to do this.”
“I haven’t been seated, and I’m already being attacked,” Verr said during a public comment portion after the vote.
Before he was finished speaking, Verr demanded Adams control the public laughter and booing.
“This wasn’t something that I cooked up,” Verr said. “Apparently, some people don’t want to understand the law.”
When Verr told Adams he wasn’t adequately controlling outbursts, Adams said, “You’re not in control, Mr. Verr, I am.”
Adams then slammed his gavel on the table.
John Macrito, a local Republican, challenged Verr and the board. He also applied to fill the seat.
“I am both saddened and disappointed that my application for trustee will not be considered,” Macrito said during public comments. “[I’m] disappointed because this board is doing a disservice to the citizens of the township. It appears your actions tonight will only add to the poor image this board already garnered by continually ignoring the voice of township citizens.”
The nearly hourlong meeting was filled with hisses, boos and sarcastic laughter from irritated residents upset with Verr – and especially Anderson and Rakestraw.
Both men maintained that nothing unethical happened.
Anderson called Verr “the most solid Republican I ever met.”
Rakestraw said, “I’ve never heard [Verr’s name] about replacing Bill at all until after Bill had resigned.”
Lifelong Republican Georgiana G. Easo vowed to vote both trustees out of office. She called the vote a “mockery.”
“They don’t care what people think,” she said.