Winnebago County Board votes against ballot question addressing a potential executive form of government

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- No change in structure as the Winnebago County Board votes against putting a binding question on the November ballot.

"Unfortunately, over the last three years, we've had 14 attempted changes to the job of Chairman, and it's created a lot of issues and problems in simple governance," said Chairperson Frank Haney.

By a 15 to 5 vote, the proposal made by Chairperson Haney in December to ask voters whether they prefer a county executive form of government fails to make it to Election Day.

"I put all my trust in the voters, they've sent us here and they have the right, through the Constitution, to have a choice in their government," said John Butitta (R-8th District).

After its initial reading late last year, board members explored the change; with some saying the public should have a chance to speak their minds when it comes to the makeup of the board as a whole.

"We're not saying people don't have the right to vote for it, we're saying, 'do we as a body support that move?'" said Joe Hoffman (D-10th District).

With the potential vote not affecting the board until 2024, those who spoke out against the move say there's plenty of time to approach the issue again.

"In 2022, there's a new board coming up for election. I also think that this hanging out there, throughout this year, will be a distraction in our search for a new administrator. And for those reasons, I'll be voting no tonight," said Paul Arena (R-7th District).

The Winnebago County Board also sent the consolidation of the county's 911 services back to committee for further discussion, and voted to hire Workspace as the search firm to find a new county administrator.