Our view: Another lost opportunity

When an elected board willfully decides that it can’t trust the electorate with a decision as simple as whether it should have the ability to elect the board’s chair, we’re left wondering why, as should voters.

The discussion about how the McHenry County Board chairman is selected has gone on for a couple years now. Currently, the chairman is not elected by voters, but by fellow County Board members. The Northwest Herald’s Editorial Board, state Rep. Jack Franks and others have said that voters should decide via a referendum whether they should elect the County Board chairman at-large.

Is it the most pressing issue in county government? No. Is it an issue that voters deserve to be able to decide? Of course it is.

Yet by an 11-9 vote Friday with four members absent, the McHenry County Board decided against placing such a referendum proposal on the April ballot.

Why is that? Some board members said it was unclear how much changing how the County Board chairman is selected would cost the county. Others said there wasn’t enough time to draft an acceptable referendum question. Still others simply prefer the status quo, regardless how voters feel.

As with most issues, there are pros and cons to changing how the County Board chairman is selected. But that’s what elections are for. Those on each side can present their arguments to voters, who then can carefully weigh those arguments and decide at the polling place.

Who’s to say voters won’t decide to stick with the current system?

The point is, it’s their government. Voters deserve to decide whether they want to elect the chairman in a countywide election at the polls, or whether their representatives on the County Board should continue to elect the chairman.

The next election isn’t until March 2014. We’ll be sure to remind voters, and County Board members, that it’s long past time to get this referendum item on the ballot.

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