Pay, Meeting Attendance Discussed at County Board Candidate Forum
All but three of the candidates seeking county board seats attended a forum hosted by the Kendall County Farm Bureau and WSPY on Thursday.
A few dozen people attended a candidates forum last week that had Kendall County Board candidates discussing annexation, meeting pay and attendance and elected officials health insurance.
All 10 county board seats are up for election this year, with eight Republican candidates vying for five spots in each of the two districts. The forum, hosted by the Kendall County Farm Bureau and WSPY, was held in the historic courtroom at the former Kendall County courthouse.
District 2 candidate Lynn Cullick and District 1 candidates John Purcell and Suzanne Petrella did not attend the forum. The three Democrats running for county board were not included, as their races are not contested in Tuesday's primary.
When District 2 candidates were asked about meeting pay and health insurance benefits for county board members, Thomas McWilliams and Jeremy Swanson said they did not intend to use the insurance, while Scott Gryder said he didn’t believe county board members should be eligible for medical benefits.
Incumbent Jeff Wehrli supported scheduling meetings back-to-back for efficiency’s sake – and maintaining the health insurance benefits.
“All employers are responsible for their employees’ health insurance,” Wehrli said. “I supply it for my local business and I expect the county to supply health insurance to its employees. I consider myself an employee of the county.”
But newcomer Michael Becker found it “inappropriate” for elected officials to have these sorts of financial incentives.
“That becomes a major financial item to them,” Becker said. “In effect, what happens is it creates enormous pressures to get yourself re-elected so you can keep getting the benefit. Once you get focused on your own re-election, you begin to lose your reason for being in office in the first place, which is to serve the voters and the taxpayers.”
Incumbents Anne Vickery and Dan Koukol supported consolidating some of the county board committees, while Vickery also emphasized that the meeting pay rate and insurance benefits were set years ago.
Later, the District 1 candidates were asked about meeting times and their personal meeting attendance. Todd Milliron and Judy Gilmour, who are not incumbents, said they regularly attend the board meetings. The meetings are at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month and at 9 a.m. the third Tuesday of every month.
Gilmour said she had been attending meetings to prepare for the office.
“I think it’s unrealistic to expect that you can come into this job without having an idea what the job entails,” Gilmour said.
Matthew Prochaska, who also is not an incumbent, supported moving the second monthly meeting to the evening to encourage more members of the public to attend and to broaden the base of people willing to run for county board. But incumbents Bob Davidson and John Shaw said the morning meeting was convenient for county staff members, who could slip into the meeting to give a report without rearranging their workday.
Jeff Spang, who is not an incumbent, said the morning meeting is convenient for residents who work second shift.