Two new Republican county board members from District 3 appear to be good choices, but they're just the beginning of the turnover the board is facing next year.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Republican members of the county board received a double dose of bad news when respected board members Alan Nudo and Brad Jones resigned their District 3 seats within days of each other.
"That's kind of like trying to drive a car with two flat tires," joked Mahomet-area board member John Jay, who was elected late last month to replace Nudo as chairman of the Republican caucus.
But five District 3 residents quickly stepped forward to be considered to fill the vacancies, and Republican precinct committeemen from the district Wednesday night chose Jeff Kibler and Max Mitchell to replace Nudo and Jones.
Kibler and Mitchell will serve in their appointed seats on the board through November. Kibler, 29, is a software developer/manager at Infobright in Champaign. He's on the ballot in November for an elected seat in the remapped District 5. Mitchell, 60, president of the Champaign County Board of Realtors, is not running in November.
In their applications, both stressed public service as one of the reasons they wanted to serve. Both have been involved in political and civic activities, and both cited the nursing home, county jail and county finances as particular interests.
While it's hard to replace board members with the experience of Nudo and Jones, District 3 Republicans should be grateful that five qualified applicants put their names forward.
But the resignations of Nudo and Jones are just the beginning of what will be many changes coming up for the county board.
Next December the number of county board member seats will drop from 27 to 22, and the number of districts will increase from nine to 11. That guarantees that some board members wouldn't be back.
While Nudo and Jones resigned early, both had previously announced they would not be running for another term, joining at least three Republicans and five Democrats. Those choosing not to run again include some of the most veteran and influential members of the board, including the board chairman, C. Pius Weibel, and vice chairman, Tom Betz, both Democrats.
The individual retirement decisions mean that close to half of the new board, and for certain the board chair, could be made up of newcomers.
The county board will lose a lot of collective wisdom as it deals with difficult issues such as what to do with the downtown Urbana jail facility, the nursing home's financial problems and the county budget. But no one is irreplaceable, and it's an opportunity for new ideas and new ways to deal with problems as newcomers join returning board veterans.
The county board has vastly improved in recent years in the way it deals with issues, becoming more effective and less stridently partisan, due to the efforts of some of the board members who are retiring. Let's hope the new board adopts the same attitude.