The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday night to reduce its size by 25 percent.
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks characterized the 19-3 vote adopting an ordinance to reduce the size of the board from 24 to 18 members as a victory for government officials and residents alike.
“I’m ecstatic,” Franks said. “This shows how good government is supposed to be, and how we can work together to get stuff done. This is to empower the citizens. The message we’re sending is we want to reform.”
The change will take effect with the 2022 election, when all seats are up for election because of redistricting after the 2020 U.S. census. The structure will transform six four-member districts to six three-member districts.
The County Board’s size has stayed the same since 1972, when voters began directly electing its members after the new state constitution ended the practice of county boards composed of township supervisors.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Governmental Consolidation formed to address the size of the board. The committee includes Kay Bates, R-McHenry; Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake; John Jung, R-Woodstock; Don Kopsell, R-Crystal Lake; Donna Kurtz, R-Crystal Lake; Mary McCann, R-Woodstock; Bob Nowak, R-Algonquin; Chris Christensen, R-Cary; and Mike Skala, R-Huntley.
While some county leaders – including Franks – said they prefer to see the board reduced to 12 members, officials compromised at 18 members – an average size compared with other county boards across the state.
Although the County Board in recent years has entertained prodding to shrink its size, most of its members have seen no need to do so.
Other counties took advantage of the 2010 U.S. census to downsize.
The Lake and Kane county boards each shrank by two board members in preparation for the time in which those counties reach 800,000 people and have to shrink to 18 members under state law, as the DuPage County Board did in 2000. The Kane County Board has 24 members, the Lake County Board has 21 members, and the Will County Board has 26.