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County legislature to pick chairman

December 28, 2013
By CASEY CROUCHER , The Leader Herald

FONDA - Three incoming Montgomery County legislators have officially expressed an interest in being the first chairman of the new legislature.

The legislature will hold its first organizational meeting New Year's Day. The first order of business will be to select a chairman.

Republican Martin Kelly from District 1 and Democrats Tom Quackenbush from District 2 and Roy Dimond from District 3 have expressed an interest.

According to the county's adopted charter, the chairman's duties are to appoint members of the legislature to serve on legislative committees and to call the legislature's meetings to order.

The newly elected legislature will replace the current county Board of Supervisors on Jan. 1. In addition, the county will have an elected county executive, Matt Ossenfort.

The legislature has a 5-4 Democratic majority. Dimond and Kelly say the party majority will affect the outcome of the decision. Quackenbush said he doesn't think party affiliation will matter.

"I think there needs to be a bipartisanship on this legislature," Quackenbush said.

Quackenbush ran on the Democratic and Republican lines in this year's election. He defeated Palatine Supervisor Brian Sweet in the Republican primary and later beat him on the Democratic line in the general election.

Dimond also is in favor of a bipartisan board.

"I think the voters said in November that they want a bipartisan government, which I am completely in favor of," Dimond said. "With Matt Ossenfort being a Republican and me being a Democrat and Conservative, I think we'd work well together leading this new government."

Kelly said he doesn't think he's secured enough votes to win the position. He said he thinks it's going to be extremely difficult to change some legislators' minds by Jan. 1, especially because of the party majority.

However, Kelly said he would make a good chairman.

"I listen to all of the sides in an issue," Kelly said. "I think I would work well with Matt Ossenfort. I'm a good communicator and I think outside of the box. I'm someone who works with everyone ... I have a diverse background, a positive image and I'm concentrating on the county as a whole."

Kelly said there may be some tension on the new board.

"The Democrats have two people going for the same position. That can cause some tension," he said. "But once the chairman is chosen, I don't think political parties will matter much."

Quackenbush wants the legislators to remember that the elections are over.

"We need to leave the politics at the door," Quackenbush said. "We're just looking to do the best to help our taxpayers and successfully transition into this new government."

Quackenbush said his experience as chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2006 and 2011 is what the new legislature needs. He also stresses the importance of teamwork among legislators.

"I think I'd be a good candidate for the position of chairman because not only do I have leadership experience, but I also have a willingness to compromise," he said. "We've all got to be team players now."

Quackenbush said Ossenfort "needs a strong partner the first year."

"Not that the other legislators aren't strong enough for the position of chairman, but I've already had the leadership experience," he said.

Dimond said the county needs fresh faces.

"The voters voted loudly that this is a new form of government and they want new faces running it, and I fit that criteria," Dimond said. "I think I have the experience to be chairman. But in November, Matt Ossenfort's opponent [Dominick Stagliano] ran on the matter that he had experience and that theme was overwhelmingly defeated, so as far as experience goes, I think I have it and I think the county wants someone new."

Quackenbush said he's focused on getting the chairman position. He wants to help ensure the legislators will be successful the first year. However, if he isn't elected chairman, he said he'll work just as hard regardless. He said his main concern is having the first year run smoothly.

"I just want to ensure that the county has a seamless transition into this new government," he said.

Dimond said if he isn't elected chairman, he'll support whoever falls into the "new" category.

Kelly said he's still undecided regarding who to support.

"I think we all have something good and different to bring to the table," Kelly said.

Dimond said there haven't been any preliminary decisions as to who should be chairman.

The meeting will take place at noon in the legislative chambers in the Montgomery County office building at 64 Broadway.



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