After 18 years in the Legislature, I announced that I would not seek re-election to the Illinois House of Representatives, instead deciding to run for chairman of the McHenry County Board.
Leaving the Legislature was not an easy decision. Since first being elected state representative, I have spent my time talking to and working on behalf of the residents of the 63rd District. For most of my tenure in the General Assembly, I have loved my job and the opportunity it afforded me to bring positive changes to the people of Illinois. From ethics reform to government consolidation to fighting against runaway taxes and spending, I am proud of what has been accomplished.
Unfortunately, over the past months, Illinois government’s dysfunction has reached a level that has put the future of our state and the welfare of our people at risk. Both political parties are at fault. They both suffer under the delusion that it’s ok for real people to suffer as long as the other side gets the blame.
I was hopeful that after the election of Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly in 2014, we would be able to show the nation how bipartisanship could improve the overall health of any government and provide benefits for its citizens. Instead, we have witnessed the worst kind of political trench warfare. Our neediest citizens are being left on their own, residents are fleeing the state at record pace, and our bond rating continues to sink because of the paralysis in the Capitol. This is not what the people of Illinois intended when they cast their ballot.
Overreliance on tax increases by many Democrats has led my party to refuse to compromise. Instead they attribute evil motives to our Republican colleagues, suggesting that any compromise would destroy Illinois. The Republicans are acting no better. Gov. Rauner and the Republicans he leads in the Legislature have refused to address the basic needs of the state without the inclusion of poison pills that they know the Democratic majority cannot accept. Both sides are so focused on partisan politics and the upcoming election that they refuse to do their job. It’s that context in which I decided it was time to leave the legislature.
Springfield is the latest victim of the poison that is extreme partisan politics in our country. Governmental dysfunction is not limited to Springfield. While the cause of the dysfunction on the McHenry County Board is not the same as Springfield, the result is the same — a government more concerned about politics and personal gain than the needs of the taxpayers they were elected to represent.
Five years ago, working in a bipartisan fashion with DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, I authored a bill to allow for the consolidation of governmental units in the collar counties. Instead of embracing a tool to design root out waste and corruption in our county, the McHenry County Board hired lobbyists to kill the legislation. Chairman Cronin’s consolidation effort has saved taxpayers in DuPage County millions, yet McHenry County wasted taxpayers’ money fighting the legislation. They put their own self-interest ahead of the public interest.
Just this year, the McHenry County Board has been engulfed in a pension scandal. Many board members signed unsupported affidavits claiming to have worked 1,000 hours a year, the threshold for pension eligibility. Yet records indicate none of the signers attended even 200 hours of meetings, far less than the statutory minimum.The Board’s complete disregard for the needs of the taxpayers convinced me that running for McHenry County Board Chairman is the right decision for me and the right decision for the residents of McHenry County.
While dysfunction runs rampant in Springfield and back home, I have come to believe I’ll have a greater ability to bring real reform to McHenry than I do in today’s poisoned Springfield climate.