After a decade-long push by DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, approval from voters last March, and the change of a state law in July, the county board has voted in favor of the dissolution of the election commission. With an 11-7 vote the dissolution starts immediately.
Aside from an estimated $300,000 in annual savings to county taxpayers, the merger will streamline services, with the County Clerk helming the commission’s duties and addressing past problems at the polls.
The push for the vote came as a majority of the board- those being republican, felt it was necessary to adopt the merger as soon as possible for the April 2 election.
“If we don’t consolidate now, what message does this send to the municipal people running in the elections this April? ‘Your elections don’t matter. It’s not as important as next spring and next fall, when we have contested partisan elections.’ I come from municipal government and I can tell you it’s probably one of the most important level of government because it’s the closest to the people,” said Sam Tornatore, board member representing District 1.
But many public commenters, democrats on the board, and the County Clerk herself, Jean Kaczmarek, were against pushing the merger forward just yet.
Their preference was to wait until after the April election, to give the county clerk’s office enough of a transition period to prepare for the new functions they’d be taking on.
“I’m up for the challenge; I just believe that the best time to do it is after we have an implementation plan in process,” said Kaczmarek. “Right now we don’t have that. And we really were thinking that we were going to have this May 1st effective date until the end of last week. So we haven’t had much time to then meet with every single county board member and discuss our research.”
With the majority vote in favor of the consolidation, the County Clerk’s office will now have five weeks to prepare for the start of the local election process in April.
The DuPage County Election Commission was formed in 1974.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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