Tom Kacich | Turnover plaguing Champaign County Board

Tom Kacich | Turnover plaguing Champaign County Board

The Champaign County Board is seeing more turnovers this term than that year the Illini basketball team tried to operate without a real point guard.

Since the current board was given the oath of office in December 2016, nine of its 22 members have resigned.

The latest, in the last month, are Democrats Robert King and Shana Jo Crews and Republican Brooks Marsh. All three have moved or are in the process of moving out of the county.

They join Democrats Chris Alix, Josh Hartke, Matt Hiser and Republicans Gary Maxwell, Diane Michaels and John Jay, who have left the board for various reasons.

Michaels, for example, moved from the county board to become county auditor.

Marsh had replaced Jay, who resigned for health reasons in February 2017, so County Board District 1 has seen a lot of turnover in the last two years.

And it will continue with at least four more members — Democrats C. Pius Weibel and Pattsi Petrie and Republicans Jack Anderson and Max Mitchell — leaving the county board after the November general election.

That means that fewer than half of the board members in December 2018 will have served two years on the board.

Weibel, the outgoing chair, admitted that the losses are troubling.

"It's a concern for the future county board," he said. "You don't have that experience and that institutional knowledge."

That's happening at the same time the county government switches to a new structure with a newly elected, powerful county executive taking over in December. The executive, a new office created by voters in 2016, will be either Republican Gordy Hulten or Democrat Darlene Kloeppel.

"I think it will be harder (for the new executive) because everything is new to everybody," Weibel said. "It's not necessarily bad. If everybody is cautious it shouldn't create problems. At least temporarily things will go at a slow place.

"You're not going to have an experienced county executive either. People will just be feeling their way through the fog for a while."

Obama endorsements

Former President Barack Obama last week announced his endorsement of six Illinois Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker and attorney general candidate Kwame Raoul, a Chicagoan who succeeded Obama in the state Senate.

Obama also endorsed three congressional challengers in Illinois — Sean Casten in suburban Chicago, Brendan Kelly in the metro East district represented by Republican Mike Bost, and Lauren Underwood, also in the suburbs.

But the former president did not endorse Betsy Londrigan, who is challenging Taylorville Republican Rodney Davis in the 13th Congressional District that includes Champaign-Urbana.

Maybe it doesn't matter in the increasingly Republican 13th District. Obama lost the district to Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 by 3/10ths of a percentage point. Donald Trump won it four years later by 5.46 percent.

Londrigan town halls

Davis' challenger will hold three more town hall meetings this week, including one Monday night in Clinton.

The Springfield Democrat said she intends to hold the public meetings in every county in the district by the middle of September. She had two last week.

Monday's will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. (preceded at 6 p.m. by a "meet and greet") at the Vespasian Warner Public Library, 310 N. Quincy St., Clinton.

She also plans to meet with voters in Taylorville — Davis' hometown — on Wednesday and in Decatur on Friday.

"I view this campaign as a job interview; I am eager to take questions from voters and discuss how we can, together, move central Illinois forward," Londrigan said.

Davis, meanwhile, said he will hold two-hour open office hours with constituents in every county in the district this month.

"Open office hours allow me to have personal, one-on-one conversations with people about the issues they care about. I'm looking forward to spending time in every county this August," the congressman said.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette columnist. His column appears on Sundays.

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