A couple of weeks ago, we submitted candidate questionnaires to the 36 candidates for the Whiteside County Board and the 28 Lee County Board contestants.
Some candidates returned them right away. Others took awhile. One candidate told me his brother accidentally burned the questionnaire along with other documents. We sent it again.
Three candidates – all incumbents – told me they didn't plan on returning the questionnaire at all. At least they were honest.
But it makes you wonder why they don't want to respond to a questionnaire. We didn't ask trick questions. They were questions about the bigger county issues, such as wind farms, the needs of law enforcement, and candidates' preferences for County Board chairman.
Our questionnaire may be the only one they receive during the campaign. I doubt they're bombarded with them.
One Whiteside County incumbent told me that some board members wouldn't answer because they didn't like the questions, particularly the one asking who they wanted as chairman.
To be sure, most of those who answered the questionnaire avoided the chairman question. They said they didn't know who would be elected to the board, so it would be premature to state a preference.
Most board members stay on for years. In Whiteside County, 25 of the 27 board members are running for re-election. In Lee County, 19 incumbents are running for 24 positions; three were knocked off in the March Republican primary.
If we had only five County Board members in each county – as is the case in much of the country – we could actually get to know the candidates and have debates. With the number of candidates in Lee and Whiteside counties, a debate would be a logistical nightmare.
With so many of them, board members aren't used to much scrutiny. Does that explain some of the resistance to responding to questionnaires?
Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.