By Mona Marcinkowski, Kathy Johnson and Nichole Larison Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision residents
As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “The concentrating of powers in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government,” or in other words, tyrannical or repressive government. This is why the State of Illinois has a law stating one individual cannot hold two elected positions in the same community of more than 40,000 people at the same time. This is to protect our community from too much power in the hands of a few.
Right now, this law, which is designed to protect us all from king-makers, is now being challenged in the Illinois State Senate. To help you understand the background, this all started with local Winnebago County Board member Ted Biondo. Mr. Biondo currently holds two elected positions, Winnebago County Board member and Rock Valley College trustee.
Mr. Biondo was alerted of this law’s existence and was asked to step down from one of his positions. Mr. Biondo chose not to step down, and the Winnebago State’s Attorney, Joe Bruscato, was asked to get involved. Skirting his responsibilities, Mr. Bruscato chose to not make a decision regarding the law in our county and chose to send the decision up the food chain to the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan.
Ms. Madigan’s office responded to the request stating Mr. Biondo resigned his Rock Valley College trustee position by accepting the Winnebago County Board position. The decision upholding the law of this state was evidently not the answer our local leaders were expecting or are willing to accept.
Apparently, Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen has asked state Sen. Dave Syverson (R-34) to amend the Election Code, for our entire state, for Ted Biondo to hold two concurrent positions. Syverson was quoted as saying, “So all we are trying to do is take out the 40,000 threshold and allow the local public, if they choose to vote for one person to be in two difference offices as long as they don’t conflict with each other, then they should be allowed to do that.”
With the Illinois Attorney General’s ruling currently standing you might ask, what is our Winnebago County State’s Attorney doing on this matter? Joe Bruscato’s only comments so far state he will let Ted Biondo decide what he wants to do, even though he is currently breaking the law. Mr. Biondo can decide to step down from one of his posts or just wait for the Illinois State Legislature to act, either way for Winnebago County.
Why is our state’s attorney not upholding the law? Joe Bruscato asked for a determination to be done by the attorney general. This request was honored, and now Joe Bruscato is refusing to do his job. Since when did the individual breaking the law get to decide whether to continue to break the law? A bank robber is not allowed to decide whether he wants to continue to rob banks or stop, depending on the agenda of the state legislature.
Why is it so important to have Ted Biondo continue to hold both positions? Do we as a community not have other qualified community members? Or is the Good Ol’ Boy list running out of names for the local elected positions? Senator Syverson’s suggestion to change our Election Code could alter our local community government, not to mention our state government evermore. By changing this law, it allows one individual to hold multiple elected positions in our community, the ability to become ruler, dictator, chief, commander, all in one.
As a community, let us heed the warning from one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, and ask our Illinois Legislature to uphold this law. This is not a clerical change to the Election Code. This type of change should not be taken passively and should not be considered for such a feeble reason. Protect our community from king-makers.
From the April 11-17, 2012, issue