County Board district 1 seat filled

County Board district 1 seat filled

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

The Winnebago County Board approved the appointment of retired FBI agent, Republican James Sacia, for District 1 on Nov. 21.

Sacia, 56, a Pecatonica resident, sent an application to Winnebago Board County Chairwoman Kris Cohn Oct. 10 for the appointment.

The seat was vacated by Republican Tom Owens, who resigned from the position because he was moving outside the county. However, board member George Anne Duckett (D-12) asked at a county board meeting on Sept. 28 if he moved prior to his resignation.

Owens vehemently denied that he had moved, grabbing Duckett’s arm. The validity of his vote was not questioned on Sept. 28 for the First Rockford Group subdivision in Winnebago Township. The subdivision vote was 23 to five; 21 votes were necessary for passage.

Owens submitted his resignation to Cohn on Oct. 3.

The filing period began on Oct. 4 and was supposed to end Oct. 16. However, Cohn announced there would be an extension for the filing time, which was until Nov. 14.

Alan Palmer, who ran for treasurer unsuccessfully, filed an application on Oct. 17. Questions were raised about whether the deadline was extended to let Palmer have a shot at getting the seat.

The legality of extending the filing time was questioned. Some contended it amounted to reopening the filing period and thus was illegal. Palmer withdrew, saying he wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Sacia, who has lived in Rockford since 1972, is retired from the FBI, where he worked from 1969 until retiring in 1997. He has also been a military officer (1962 to 1969), in the reserves (1965 to 1969) and in the Army (1962 to 1965). Currently, he owns and operates NITE Equipment, Inc., which is a farm equipment, trailer and truck dealership.

He has been an associate director of the Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. He was also on the Winnebago School District #323 board from 1988 to 1996. Presently, he is the vice president on the Winnebago Foundation for Educational Excellence, which provides additional funds for the school district, and he also is the director of the German American State Bank Board.

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Sacia said he wanted to be on the county board because “I have a strong desire for public service. I’ve been involved in community service in my area throughout the time I’ve lived here … and I always had an interest in the county board.”

Sacia is interested in serving on the Public Safety Committee. “I have a strong interest in public safety,” he stated.

Board members submit requests to serve on particular committees, descending from their first choice, to their second choice to their third choice.

Executive Committee Chairman John Terranova will review the requests and make recommendations to the county board as to what committees he feels particular board members should serve on. The board will vote upon the requests in December, when the new members are sworn in.

Sacia won’t know what committee he will serve on until mid-December, when the new board takes their oath of office.

Besides dealing with public safety issues, he yearns to focus on zoning issues, “especially as they apply to rural Winnebago County.”

A recent zoning issue was the 500-house, First Rockford Group subdivision in Winnebago Township that sparked debate. Many residents and even the township argued the subdivision would be too large and pose challenges to schools and roads.

Sacia, referring to his tenure on the school board, said he’s not in a position to cite how the development will affect schools. However, he said he was troubled by the fact that impact fees weren’t addressed for the subdivision. He noted that impact fees are “assessing none to the builder of the home purchaser in order to offset the cost of education.”

Sacia remarked that regarding residents’ concerns, “I really wasn’t close to the ongoing discussions of that.”

On the recent farmette zoning change, he said he lacks too much knowledge to decide whether the law should be changed. In order to learn about county farming issues, he will attend the next farm bureau meeting.

Also, he stated that he didn’t have much information on the situation involving the drawn-out battle between Tom Ditzler and the county involving the quick-take of the Ditzlers land. “I think that’s something I want to reserve comment on until I research further,” Sacia said. “I know Tom Ditzler personally, and I have a lot of regard and respect for him.”

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