Soil and water district board election inspires no confidence
To the Editor:
A week ago, friends advised me that the Soil and Water Conservation District was having an election for three seats on its board. Voting was to take place at the district office in Woodstock, only on Feb. 20, during business hours. Obviously, this discourages votes from people who work outside Woodstock on weekdays or live in the farther reaches of McHenry or Lake County.
I'm also appalled that we have to hear about such things by word of mouth rather than highly visible public announcements. It was published in the Northwest Herald a week ago, but not very noticeable. On the district website, the link to the voting information was almost invisible. It should have been a big headline at the top. Clearly, they don't want anyone to know.
We did go that morning. You just sign in with your name and address, they give you a ballot, you mark it and drop it in a cardboard box. Very professional, very secure (NOT!) Anyone could sign and vote. They weren't checking a thing.
The office is located on the back side of a building that houses a restaurant. A hand-lettered cardboard sign attached to a sawhorse stood on the sidewalk with the words "VOTE here."
There were no position statements or qualifications available for any candidates on-site (I asked) or online as far as I could tell. It was like a "secret" trade union vote where they don't want members to know what's going on, rather than a vote that affects public policy.
We've owned land in McHenry County for 21 years, and this is the first time I have heard of an election for the soil and water conservation board. I had assumed members were appointed by the McHenry County Board, but apparently not. It seems they "usually" have only one name for each available seat, so the vote is moot and doesn't matter. I do not approve of this, even though I'm 100% in support of conservation measures and regulation. Surely these questionable practices should be corrected and conducted in a manner more visible to the public.
Gary Lee Phillips