Lawlor Proposes Sweeping Reforms for Lake County

Above, Link, Lawlor, Madigan

by Long Hwa-shu

Lake County Board chairman Aaron Lawlor would like his post to be elected countywide rather than by his fellow board members.

Lawlor who has been recently re-elected county board chairman is proposing a package of what he called “groundbreaking reforms” to county government that would give voters the opportunity to decide on the leadership structure and management of the county.

A highlight of his reforms is on redistricting of county board boundaries, for which he sharply criticized power brokers in Springfield for blocking voters “from weighing in on the Independent Map Amendment” in redistricting county board boundaries. 

Lawlor said he will appear before the County Board finance committee at 1 p.m. Wednesday to seek support for his proposed reforms. The full board is expected to vote on the measure on Feb. 14.

“Speaker (Michael) Madigan can keep redistricting reform off ballots statewide, but not in Lake County,” he warned.

“For years, politicians have gerrymandered district lines for political gain,” he said bluntly, adding, “We are ready to serve as a model for the reforms that can help fix our broken state.”

Lawlor noted State Sen. Terry Link (Dist. 30) introduced a bill last week in the State Legislature that requires the county board chairman to be elected county wide, starting in 2020.

The bill, he said, “is an important step forward, but doesn’t go far enough in enacting meaningful good government reforms and safeguards that protect professionalism over political patronage.” Currently, the county board chairman is selected from among the county board members every two years by the members. Lawlor is asking Link to make amendments to Senate Bill 0669 that would allow voters to decide for themselves on local issues.

“Voters should be able to say what they want, rather than Springfield dictating what they need,” Lawlor said.

In addition to a countywide vote for the chairmanship, Lawlor said he urges Sen. Link to amend his bill calling for a voter referendum asking voters if they would support these other measures:

  • Reduce the size of the county board by at least four from 21,
  • Implement redistricting reform based on the “Independent Map Amendment.”

Lawlor said his proposals could create an annual savings of at least $250,000. If voters approve the measures in 2018, redistricting reform would begin with the release of the 2020 census data. New county board boundaries would be set for the 2022 election when voters would decide the new county board chairman and elect all members of the board.

Lawlor said he will appear before the County Board finance committee at 1 p.m. Wednesday to seek support for his proposed reforms. The full board is expected to vote on the measure on Feb. 14.

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