Monday, December 1, 2008

Lake County Board-- Same as it ever was!

After saying that partisanship would not play a part in County Board politics, the republicans on the county board apparently did just that by removing Democrat Angelo Kyle (pictured) from his Vice Chairmanship, leaving Democrats with no leadership positions despite having made substantial gains (4 seats going from 6 to 10) this November.

Two years from now the Republicans might have to eat today's actions if the Democrats gain two more seats and take voting control of the board. High risk strategy!
From the News Sun-- In what could be the first sign of a partisan rift, Democrats expressed disappointment at being shut out of all the top leadership posts on the Lake County Board and Lake County Forest Preserve Board, despite gaining four board seats in the Nov. 4 general election.

During reorganization meetings Monday, the newly seated county board voted 23-0 to re-elect Suzi Schmidt, R-3rd, of Lake Villa, as board chairman, and re-elected Bonnie Thompson Carter, R-5th, of Ingleside as forest preserve president by a 22-1 vote.

However, the selection of the county board's vice chairman and the forest preserve's vice president split along party lines. The county board voted 13-10 to elect David Stolman, R-20th, of Buffalo Grove as vice chairman over Audrey Nixon, D-14th, of North Chicago, and the forest preserve board voted 13-10 to elect Carol Calabresa, R-15th, of Libertyville over Angelo Kyle, D-12th, of Waukegan.

The county board and forest preserve board are comprised of the same members and have the same terms of office, and members elect their leaders following board elections every two years. With Democrats gaining four seats on the County Board, the Republican advantage on the board has been reduced from 17-6 down to 13-10.

Some members of the growing Democratic minority on the County Board expressed anger that Democrats were not included in at least one of the four leadership posts.

"As far as I'm concerned, the era of cooperation is over," said a visibly upset Robert Sabonjian, D-8th, of Waukegan.

Sabonjian said he was particularly disappointed the Republican-controlled board replaced Calabresa with Kyle as vice president of the forest preserve board.

"It's all about retribution and pay back for the election," he said. "I'm really disappointed."

Kyle said he too felt that politics played a role in the outcome.

"I don't think it's ever been this partisan since I've been here," he said. "It's going to be a rough two years if it continues to go this way."

Schmidt said she does not believe partisanship was a major factor in who was chosen for the leadership posts.

Schmidt said she nominated Calabresa for forest preserve vice president because Calabresa had previously served as forest preserve president and had an extensive knowledge of forest preserve issues.

Schmidt said she believes everyone will work together and doesn't foresee a partisan rift.

"I don't see a lot of changes," she said. "We have some great new board members coming on who I'm thrilled about working with."

A total of six new members were sworn in Monday, including five Democrats and one Republican.

The new Democrats who joined the board are Diane Hewitt who knocked off Republican incumbent Randy Whitmore in District 2; Melinda Bush who defeated Republican incumbent Larry Leafblad in District 6; Pat Carey who unseated Republican incumbent Terese Douglass in District 11; and Terry Wilke who defeated Republican incumbent Bob Powers in District 16. Democrat Michelle Feldman, a former Deerfield trustee, also joined the County Board after winning an uncontested race for the seat held by long-time board member Carol Spielman, D-22nd, of Highland Park.

Republican Linda Pedersen was also sworn in after winning a close race against Democrat Peter Grant for an open seat in District 1.

Some of the new Democratic board members said they were hopeful the board could put partisan differences aside in the best interests of the county.

"There will be an adjustment period, but I have no doubt we can work together," said Carey, a former mayor of Grayslake.

Wilke agreed: "There's been a lot of talk about partisanship but my hope is we won't see that in the future."

But Wilke said he hopes the diversity of the board will be reflected when committee assignments are made next week. "I don't think anybody should have a problem with having balance on the board," he said.

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