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By Caitlin R. King
The Calhoun County Board of Commissioners held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, June 13, where several matters were discussed. The most notable of which was the appointment of a fifth county commissioner.
Following the resignation of Sarah Kinder from the commission in April, the board has been down one member. State statute calls for the board to appoint someone to take over for the remainder of Kinder’s term. In the time since Kinder’s resignation, the board has discussed a variety of potential replacements.
During the commission’s May meeting, Charles Burch, who previously worked as the county’s States Attorney, volunteered himself for the board’s consideration for the seat.
Illinois state statute outlines that the appointment must be of someone in the previous holder’s political party. In these cases of appointment, the board typically hears the political party’s recommendation before making their decision.
As the conversation began, commissioner Kim Klaas made sure to bring attention to the Democratic Party’s recommendation.
“I feel like the Democratic Party should have sent someone to let us know of their decision. This is important because I personally received grief from Democratic Party candidates after the state’s attorney appointment, and if they want us to take their recommendation seriously, I feel like they can come and let us know who they chose and why they chose them, because it was not good last time,” Klaas said.
Chairman Terry Woelfel was quick to respond, “I’m precinct committeeman in two precincts, and Chris is precinct committeeman in Hamburg. So we’ll be the spokespeople for the party.”
Present at the meeting was Chris Behrens, the building inspector for Calhoun County. Behrens ultimately fielded questions from the board regarding the Calhoun County Democrats recommendation.
“We had a great discussion over it and we talked a long time about Charlie and the fact that we thought he might be a real asset for the county… but they ended up accepting Dylan Ringhausen as their candidate for the county commissioner,” Woelfel reported.
Ringhausen received the majority vote amongst the seven precinct committeemen within the Democratic Party to earn their recommendation. Ringhausen currently works as a guidance counselor at Calhoun High School.
Following the announcement, Commissioner Doug Wilscheltz directed a question to Behrens, “What is the criteria that you use as that precinct committeeman? You cast a vote for Dylan— and I’m good with that— I’ve known Dylan since he was small and I think he can do this job, but tell me what is it that you see in Dyland that would make him a better candidate than Charlie?”
“It’s education. His youth,not that your age should matter, but we’re trying to draw in young people. I’m the youngest person of the precinct committeeman, and I’m not young,” Behrens said.
Behrens also added that Ringhausen plans to run again for a full term, whereas Burch was planning to just cover the remainder of Kinder’s term.
After being asked by commissioner Wilscheltz if they should take a chance when they have someone the know is good, Klaas answered:
“I would take a chance. Given the situation the county is in right now— our population is decreasing— we have to make some positive changes in order for things to grow in the opposite direction, and I think we’re at a point where we have to take some chances.”
She continued, “if we want to be set with the way things have gone then that’s the way to go, but if we want to move forward and look at new opportunities and new things and have someone that’s more forward thinking, I think that we have to take a chance.”
Klaas ultimately made the motion to appoint Dylan Ringhausen to fill the vacancy left by Kinder. Chairman Woelfel seconded her motion, citing “the party’s choice.” Klaas and Woelfel voted Aye, with Wilscheltz abstaining. Commissioner Phil Robeen was absent from the meeting. Ringhausen will be sworn in in the coming weeks.
The Calhoun County Commission meets on the third Monday each month at 5 p.m. in the Marvin Richter Administrative Building at 301 S County Road, Hardin, IL 62047. The public is encouraged to attend.