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Champaign County League of Women Voters calls for the end of the county executive position after just four years

URBANA — Champaign County government underwent a big change in recent years.   

In 2016, voters approved the creation of a new county executive position to oversee county government, in hopes of making it more functional. 

In 2018, they elected Democrat Darlene Kloeppel as the first person to serve in that position.  

Less than four years later, the Champaign County League of Women Voters recommends eliminating the office of county executive and replacing it with an elected county board chair.  

Illinois Newsroom’s Brian Moline spoke with Trisha Crowley, one of the co-chairs of the league’s task force that is recommending this change.  She notes that Champaign County voters actually approved two referendums in 2016 – and that having the county board chair elected countywide was the second one. 

Listen to this story here.

“When the voters were asked to make a change in county government in 2016, they were presented with two different structures, and as I recall, the discussion at the time focused more on whether to change from what people considered to be a not very well-functioning county board. There was not so much discussion on the difference between the two forms, and both of them passed with more than 50 percent,” Crowley said.

Crowley notes there has been constant fighting between the county executive and the county board since Kloeppel took office four years ago, including a case before the Illinois Supreme Court about whether the executive or the County Board Chair has the authority to fill appointments on the board itself.

The league’s task force concluded that a Count Board Chair elected by the voters would help solve many of these issues.

Darlene Kloeppel is not running for a second term as county executive this fall. Democrat Steve Summers, a current county board member, is running against Republican Ted Myhre, the village president of Sadorus. Myhre lost two years ago in the Champaign County Treasurer’s race against Democrat Cassandra Johnson.

You can read the league’s full report on county government below.  

County Governance StudyTask Force Final Report

And here’s a video presentation the task force made at a recent LOWV meeting:

Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianMolineWILL.

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Brian Moline

Brian Moline is the Managing Editor of Illinois Newsroom and host of Morning Edition for Illinois Public Media/WILL. He's been with WILL since 2015, after a long stint at WDWS-AM in Champaign where he covered both news and sports for more than a decade. If you have story or interview ideas, you can reach Brian at bmoline@illinois.edu.

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