WHAT seemed like a slam dunk late last week turned into a surprise ‘no’ vote on Tuesday night when the Ogle County Board rejected a recommendation from Chairman Kim Gouker to appoint Polo attorney M. Thomas Suits as the new state’s attorney.
The board went into closed session citing discussion of the election of a public official before the vote. After closed session Suits’ appointment was rejected in a 13-11 vote in open session.
The Ogle County State’s Attorney is being vacated in January when Ben Roe will be taking a circuit judge appointment in the 15th Judicial Circuit in early January. By state law, the appointment of a successor State’s Attorney will only be valid for the remainder of the first two years of the current four year term to which Roe had been recently elected. A special election for Ogle County State’s Attorney, will be held to fill the final two years of the term, at the next General Election to be held Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.
Voting in favor of Suits for the two-year appointment were board members Ron Colson, John Finfrock, Kim Gouker, Dan Janes, John O’Brien, Zachary Oltmanns, Patricia Saunders, Ashley Simms, Greg Sparrow, Marty Typer and Bill Welty. Board members voting against the appointment of Suits included Dorothy Bowers, Jerry Brooks, Bobbie Colbert, Donald Griffin, Richard Gronewold, Marcia Heuer, Lyle Hopkins, Skip Kenney, Kimberly Kirkolis, Bruce McKinney, LeRoy Meyers, Patricia Nordman and Richard Petrizzo.
Gouker stated that following the interviews, the Ad Hoc Committee discussed at length each of the candidates’ backgrounds and interview responses and reached a unanimous consensus to recommend Suits for board approval.
Ogle County State’s Attorney Ben Roe met with the committee and gave his recommendation of Mike Rock, currently with the state’s attorney’s office, adding that he respected the committee’s process and decision to choose Suits.
“This was a very difficult decision because Ogle County is blessed with four very highly qualified individuals,” Gouker said.
“Any one which could have served well the citizens of this county. Our selection of Tom Suits was based on his well rounded background of administrative and legal qualities,” Gouker added.
After Tuesday’s meeting and failure to approve the appointment of Suits, Gouker wasn’t sure what the next step would be.
“Obviously I had not planned on this. I will start coming up with plan B tomorrow,” he stated.
McKinney, who was also on the interview committee that recommended Suits, voted against the appointment on Tuesday night.
“After the interviews and questioning myself I began to change my opinion,” McKinney said. “I feel this position of state’s attorney requires someone with a lot of prosecuting experience. I was impressed by Mr. Suits’ interview but the more I got to thinking he has a one-person practice. We need someone to manage the office of many attorneys. Mr. Suits does municipal government law and has no prosecuting experience. All four candidates are qualified but we need someone with prosecuting experience and the ability to manage the office.”
At press time Gouker could not be reached for comment on what the next step will be in choosing a new state’s attorney.
In a roll call vote the board voted to change mileage reimbursement from 1 cent per mile to the current IRS standard rate of 55.5 cents. In 2008 the board reduced their mileage from the IRS standard rate to 1 cent per mile in a cost saving measure for the county. Members receive mileage reimbursement for all regular and committee meetings they attend.
Board member Pat Saunders was against raising the rate.
“I am in favor of keeping at 1 cent to show department heads and taxpayers we are serious about saving money,” she said. “That was the reason we did this in the first place. We are not in it for the money. We are here as public servants and I would like to see it stay at 1 cent.”
“We need to restore it for the members that drive from further parts of the county,” he said.
McKinney also agreed.
“County board members do a lot of sacrificing and we should be reimbursed for gas mileage,” he echoed.
In another close vote of 13-11, the board voted to change Resolution 2012-1209 to not include county board members. The original resolution included elected officials and county board members who worked 1,000 hours a year would be eligible for participation in Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
Board member Hopkins made a motion to amend the resolution to not include county board members. On a roll call vote, Hopkins’ motion was passed. Voting for the amendment were Brooks, Finfrock, Gronewold, Hopkins, Janes, Kenney, Kirkolis, Meyers, O’Brien, Oltmanns, Petrizzo, Saunders and Welty.
The motion was then passed on voice vote with elected officials except for county board members allowed to participate in IMRF.
Ogle County Board Committee Assignments
The county board passed new committee assignments effective immediately. The new assignments were drawn up by Gouker and Finfrock.
Assessment, Planning & Zoning
• Chairman: Bill Welty
• Ron Colson, Lyle Hopkins, Dan Janes, Lee Meyers, Bruce McKinney, John O’Brien, Dick
• Petrizzo, Ashley Simms
County Infrastructure (Building & Grounds, IT/NITT, Central Purchasing)
• Chairman: Rich Gronewold
• John Finfrock, Don Griffin, Marcia Heuer, John Kenney, Patricia Nordman, Marty Typer
Coroner & Safety)
• Chairman: Dan Janes
• Jerry Brooks, Rich Gronewold, Lee Meyers, Patricia Nordman, Ashley Simms, Greg Sparrow
Finance, Insurance & Personnel
• Chairman: Kim Gouker
• John Finfrock, Rich Gronewold, Lyle Hopkins, John O’Brien, Dick Petrizzo, Greg Sparrow, Marty
Typer, Bill Welty
HEW, Solid Waste & Veterans
• Chairman: Dorothy Bowers
• Bobbie Colbert, Don Griffin, John Kenney, Kim Kirkolis, Bruce McKinney, Zach Oltmanns
Judiciary & Circuit Clerk
• Chairman: Pat Saunders
• Dorothy Bowers, Dan Janes, Lee Meyers, Bruce McKinney, Ashley Simms, Greg Sparrow
Long Range & Strategic Planning
• Chairman: Ron Colson
• Kim Gouker, Don Griffin, Kim Kirkolis, Zach Oltmanns, Dick Petrizzo, Ashley Simms
Road, Bridge & Mapping (Road & Bridge, GIS)
• Chairman: Lyle Hopkins
• Marcia Heuer, John Kenney, Lee Meyers, John O’Brien, Pat Saunders, Marty Typer
State’s Attorney, Juvenile & Probation
• Chairman: John Finfrock
• Jerry Brooks, Bobbie Colbert, Kim Gouker, Patricia Nordman, Zach Oltmanns, Bill Welty
• Kim Gouker, Chairman, John Finfrock, Vice Chairman, Finance Committee Vice Chairman, Ron
Colson, Long Range Planning Committee Chairman, State’s Attorney Committee Vice
Kathleen E. Wilson was appointed to the Mental Health 708 Board.
Ogle County Civic Center Authority has five vacancies.
Mental Health 708 Board has one vacancy.
Application and resume deadline is Friday, December 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the County Clerk’s office, 105 S. 5th Street, Suite 104, Oregon.
The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Ogle County Board is Tuesday, January 15 at 5:30 p.m.