McLean County swore in three new County Board members and reelected John McIntyre as chairman during a special meeting on Monday.
The meeting, held virtually because of the pandemic, also showed political tensions haven’t entirely vanished since the election.
Hannah Beer, Val Laymon and Benjamin Webb formally joined the board along with Lea Cline, who was installed last month to fill a board vacancy. Six incumbents who won election in November also took the oath of office: McIntyre, Josh Barnett, William Friedrich, Catherine Metsker, Susan Schafer and George Wendt.
The board reelected McIntyre as chairman in a 19-1 vote. Shayna Watchinski cast the only dissenting vote. She later said she opposed him because of how he chose committee assignments for board members.
All but one of 20 chair and vice-chair seats on county board committees went to Republicans. Laurie Wollrab, the only Democrat with more than one term on the board, was tabbed vice chair of the property committee.
Several Democrats on the board said they expected more committee assignments after picking up two more board seats in the November election. Republicans hold an 11-9 majority.
“It just doesn’t seem to be ... that equitable and fair,” said board member Sharon Chung.
McIntyre said he based assignments more on experience than party affiliation. He said Democrats are short on experience after two long-serving board members lost during recent primary elections (Paul Segobiano in 2018 and George Gordon in 2020).
“They lost in your primary, not in my primary,” McIntyre, a Republican, responded.
Despite those objections, the assignments passed unanimously. Republicans hold 48 of 70 committee and subcommittee assignments.
McIntyre has served as chair since 2016. The chairmanship term is for two years.
The board also approved reelecting Jim Soeldner as vice chairman in a 14-3 vote. Cline, Watchinski and Logan Smith voted "no," and Beer and Webb abstained.
In another matter, the board approved moving the full board’s monthly meeting to the Thursday following the Executive Committee meeting (which is held on the second Tuesday each month) starting in January. McIntyre said the move gives board members more flexibility for their personal schedules, since all committee meetings are held during the first two weeks of each month.
“I thought (it was for) the convenience of all members of the board so their obligations to attend meetings will not be spread out over three weeks down to two weeks, so if they have plans or other things they can do, they’ll be able to plan better and won’t have to miss a meeting,” McIntyre said.
"There are a number of people on our board who also serve on other boards or other committees, and I’m one of them. It’s a way to address that.”
The county will move Executive Committee to the second Monday of each month.
The board also approved keeping all county board and committee meetings entirely virtual through the end of March. The board will reconsider on a quarterly basis.
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