Updated: Oct 17
What's important for voters to understand is that voting YES on the County Executive referendum would simply make real the kind of county government you probably thought we already had, but that we never really had.
If you're a moderately knowledgeable Winnebago County voter, you thought every four years when you voted for County Board Chairman you were voting for an executive-type figure who had their own authority in managing county administration.
When you heard that Board Members stripped the Chair position of most of its power, even if you don't like the current Chairman, you were left wondering, "How can they do that???"
You were being deceived by bizarre government structure that was invented by the Winnebago County Board back in the 90's. No other county in Illinois has a county-wide elected Chairman position that was created by the Board itself. And what the Board creates, the Board can take away. It's a dual dependency which is inherently unstable.
The County Executive referendum would create a Chairman-like position whose authority is derived from the people, independent from the Board, which, again, is what you probably thought we had to begin with.
Under the County Executive:
The Board is still the legislative body.
The County Executive (what used to be the Chairman) is the executive/administrative body. (The County Executive can have a professional County Administrator just like we have now.)
Voters control both.
Neither control each other.
The county remains non-home rule.
The first County Executive won't be elected until 2024.
I'm proud to have helped lead the effort to get this on the ballot. If you are both interested in and frustrated by all this, know that all 20 county board seats are up for election in 2022.