Election Money Passes With Resentment | WGLT

Election Money Passes With Resentment

Jun 21, 2016

Credit Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The McLean County Board has approved an additional 216,000 dollars for the County Clerk to cope with increased administrative demands caused by the same day voter registration law.

The move comes in response to three plus hour wait times at precincts on the campus of Illinois State University during primary voting in March.

Board Member Rich Buchanan blamed students for not registering ahead of time.

"Well, they need to get off their butts and get out there to about twenty different locations and get registered. Because, we just put a whole bunch of taxpayers money in to pay for their lackadaisical attitude about voting," said Buchanan.

Board member Eric Rankin did not let Buchanan's heated remark and portrayal of students as shiftless go unchallenged.

"Students are interested in voting and shouldn't these citizens, not students, I really wish we would stop it. They are taxpaying citizens in this county as well. They contribute to our society and we should do everything we can," said Rankin.

Board member Laurie Wollrab pointed out for many college students, it's their first time at the polls and they should be given leeway in learning the system.
Student political groups have promised to increase pre-registration campaigns.

Board member George Gordon said the state mandate for same day voter registration should not mean that the County Clerk is expected to cope with the burden without additional resources.

"Administrative capacity should not be taken for granted," said Gordon.

The McLean County Board has kicked a gravel pit application back to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Board member Jim Soeldner said he's not sure 400,000 dollars is enough of a reserve when the digging stops.

"There was a lot of concern about an operator of a gravel pit down there not doing his job when it came to reclaiming the gravel pit. I was wondering if there was something we could do to put more teeth in our applications that the operator of a gravel put is required to do more to reclaim a gravel pit that's not operational back to its original form," said Soeldner.

The ZBA had recommended approval of the gravel pit in Funks Grove Township. But, the County Board asked for more hearings and testimony on the question and on potential road damage.

The Board had to undo its approval when Soeldner belatedly realized he'd let the matter through on the consent agenda.

Fifteen year McLean County Board member Ben Owens expressed worry about the future of the board during his final speech to that body. Owens is resigning at the end of the month because he is moving out of his district. Owens says he feels the board is abandoning its tradition of friendly debate and going in the wrong direction.

"Within the last four years it feels like we're going to partisan politics. Comments that Democrats should not chair committees or be on Exec. That is not right folks," said Owens.

Democrats do and have served as committee chairs and on the Executive Committee under the last several Board Chairs. Current Chair John McIntyre says he looks carefully at the ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the board and tries to match that in committee assignments.

Josh Barnett won the GOP primary to replace Owens in November. An appointment to fill the vacancy until the election will be made in August.