Kendall County Board Candidates Respond to Evening Meetings Idea
Two candidates have proposed moving all county board meetings to the evening and combining some of the committees. Here's what some of their opponents said about it.
Prochaska and Gryder, both heavily involved with Kendall County Young Republicans, also suggested merging six of the committees into the board's Committee of the Whole meeting. Their proposed calendar has meetings starting at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and has each county board member serving on two or three committees.
All 10 County Board seats are open in the November election, with six candidates competing for five spots in District 1 and nine candidates vying for five seats in District 2.
Presently, county board members can attend two monthly board meetings, attend a monthly committee of the whole meeting and participate in 11 county board committees. One monthly board meeting starts at 9 a.m., while another starts at 6 p.m. The committee meetings start at a variety of times, with the Economic Development Committee meeting starting at 8:30 a.m. and the Labor and Grievance Committee meeting starting at 3 p.m.
Prochaska, of District 1, and Gryder, of District 2, also suggested adding video of county meetings and a database of county expenditures to the county website.
District 1 candidate Judy Gilmour supports combining some committees but not moving the meetings to the evening, citing current daytime meeting attendance and staff participation. (Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see the statements e-mailed by her and other candidates.)
District 2 candidate Lynn Cullick supports the proposal whole-heartedly, while District 1 candidates Amy Cesich and John Purcell think whoever is sitting in the board room in December should discuss it.
Here are their unedited e-mail responses to the plan:
County Board Chairman John Purcell:
"If I am elected, I will listen to all points of view regarding Meeting & Committee times and / or structures. The decision to change any Board meeting times, or the decision to make changes pertaining to committees should be made with all Ten Board members input."
District 2 Candidate Scott Gryder:
"This is an attempt to modernize the county government and make it more user friendly. More than 2/3 of Kendall County residents are employed in other counties. They bring money back to the Kendall County economy, and it should be easy for them to bring their concerns and their ideas to their government. Not only does this open up the process to participation for issues of concern but it will broaden the pool of potential candidates.
"With respect to greater transparency, counties and municipalities are cutting costs and making themselves more accountable to the citizens by putting everything online. There are many low cost ways to use technology to upgrade the way we deliver information to our residents. I look forward to working with fellow board members to implement these new ways to make county government more accountable."
District 2 Candidate Lynn Cullick:
"I agree that conducting the county board meetings in the evenings, a more comprehensive website and adding video of meetings would go a long way towards a more transparent government and allow for more participation by the community. There should be a communication plan in place to be sure we have a well informed citizenry. The idea of combining several of the committees into a committee of the whole is one that I embrace as well. I believe the committee work is necessary, and the committee of the whole structure would allow it to be done in the most efficient manner possible."
District 1 Candidate Amy Cesich:
Working to streamline government, engaging in new ideas, and making the Board more accessible is always a positive thing. The proposal is a good start. More discussions with staff and making sure it’s actually cost effective is key, but in the spirit of cooperation this should be a decision for the newly elected County Board. I agree that the meetings should be videotaped and posted on the website; the County checkbook should also be posted. Open and transparent government and accountability is vital to our community, and I hope to see these changes implemented.
District 1 Candidate Judy Gilmour:
"Combining some committees or eliminating unneeded ones makes sense. However, the idea of moving all meetings to the evening is based on the faulty premise that it would improve attendance. This simply is not true. Tuesday’s 9 AM county board meeting, for example, had close to 40 people in the audience. From my experience of attending many committee and county board meetings, daytime attendance is always better than the evening meeting. County meetings often last 4 hours or more, and expecting the public to sit through meetings lasting until nearly midnight would actually discourage attendance.
"The availability and valuable input of staff is needed at every committee and county board meeting. Requiring staff attendance at night would be costly and require a major change in their working conditions. Conducting county business during daytime hours is the norm, and is consistent with how surrounding counties operate. This has proven to be the best way to meet the needs of our residents.
"I favor videotaping meetings and putting them online for the public to view. This is an excellent way to bring transparency to county government. This can easily be implemented, as the technology is there. This is long overdue, and should be a priority of the new board."