Editor’s Desk: Jack Franks takes collaborative approach as McHenry County Board chairman

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Jack Franks appears to be taking the responsible approach as he is set to be sworn in Monday as the McHenry County Board’s first popularly elected chairman.

A Democrat and longtime state representative, Franks has knocked heads numerous times in the past with the Republican-dominated County Board.

But rather than taking an adversarial approach as he prepares to take office, Franks is taking a collaborative one. He reached out to all 24 County Board members, 23 of them Republicans, sharing his ideas and asking for theirs.

“I’ve had the pleasure of reaching out to every member of the County Board and speaking to almost everyone regarding our shared goals of good government, efficiency, transparency, accountability and lowering our property tax burden,” he wrote in a letter to County Board members. “Your guidance, input and suggestions have been invaluable. The consensus is that the board will function more efficiently and the members will be more informed and empowered with some structural changes. I took your advice and came up with the following improvements.”

Among the changes Franks wants are to make county government more transparent by holding all meetings, including committee meetings, in the County Board Chamber, where they can be audiotaped and streamed live online; reducing the number of committees from 11 to seven to create efficiencies; and holding Committee of the Whole meetings a couple of days before board meetings so all board members will be informed about committee issues and votes before the full board votes.

“We are fortunate to have dedicated and hardworking people at all levels of our county government,” Franks wrote. “We will continue to seek ways to improve and to be responsive to our constituents. We will continue to earn the people’s trust each and every day.”

Given the history between Franks and the County Board, with disputes over board pensions, transparency, state lobbyists and other matters, not to mention the contentious race for chairman with County Board member Michael Walkup, Franks could have taken a different approach.

It’s in all McHenry County taxpayers’ best interests that Democrat Franks and the almost-entirely Republican County Board work together.

It’s refreshing to see they’re off to a good start.

• Dan McCaleb is executive editor of the Northwest Herald. Email him at dmccaleb@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_McCaleb.