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Open Letter on Hope Creek Vote

Sue Golden

Downsizing Board

2014 Draft Budget

Hope Creek

Courthouse Future

County Board Meetings

Hope Creek Town Hall May 28th

RICo in violation of Open Meetings Act

Update Speech

The Oath I took

Rock Island County Budget:  2013-2014

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Bill to Allow Courthouse Without Voter Ok

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County Board Meeting Information

Community Links

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Jim Wozniak Interview

Progressive State Tax


Downsizing the Rock Island County Board

February 13, 2015

Was honored to speak to the Rock Island County Branch of the NAACP meeting last night.

It is very important to educate the public on this issue so that people understand the options on the table for reducing the number of county board member, what positive benefits might exist and also identify the unintended consequences if the board size is reduced.

If the public wishes to downsize, that leaves two new choices: 
• Board reduction in 2018 with multimember districts or
• Board reduction in 2022 in a normal decennial census reapportionment which would allow single-member districts.

As an elected official, I have a duty to listen to the will of the people but also to bring to light potential concerns that have not been addressed.  Speaking to the NAACP meeting last night was very helpful to identifying and understanding their views and feelings on this issue in the community. 

Concerns I heard related to county board reduction-
• Risk of disenfranchisement
• A decrease in the number of people of color on the board
• Dilution of minority voice

I will not be a part of “selling a bill of goods”.  It is my obligation to flesh out issues and inform our county board members as well as the voters of all facets of this issue including unintended consequences.  I have been committed to finding the truth behind this issue.  I was told that the board could not be reduced outside decennial reapportionment-  I did not believe that- I said that was wrong- I was proven correct.

When I was proven correct, the parameters of downsizing were set so that the only path was so narrow that it only can be done with multi-member districts.  I was the first to point out the obvious concerns to rural and minority representation. 

If you want more information, last August, County Board Member Don Johnston and I appeared on “The Cities with Jim Mertens” to discuss this issue:

Here is a link to the handout I gave to members:  Downsizing Handout

When I was running for election in 2012 a friend of mine who is somewhat removed from our politics in this county (as he is a Mexican national ) gave me this advice: “all you need to do is look out for the people.”   And that is what I will do.



November 3, 2014

Letter to the editor published in The Rock Island Argus, The Dispatch, and The Quad City Times.

I wanted to keep you updated on a new wrinkle in the downsizing county board issue. My printed documents were purloined from me in January 2013 have turned up in a political attack ad.  This seems contrary to the current revisionist history that everyone on the Rock Island County board has been in favor of investigating if the board can be downsized. They were not. 
I was fought on many levels and hit obstacles from my initial request to put this issue on the agenda, to the committee level where information was presented to me in committee without any prior review, to outright attempts at intimidation and threats if I would not cease in my efforts.to follow through on my pledge to follow the will of the people on this issue.
But I would not have imagined that documents would be taken without my permission, withheld from me without my knowledge, and would not be returned to me but instead would be used in bald face lies in a political ad.
I suspect I join many in seeing the end of this political ad season. 
But more importantly, those who fought against following through on the downsizing issue were not successful, I prevailed and the Attorney General Opinion was written in agreement with my original statement that the board could be downsized prior to 2022.
When elected in 2012 to the county Board, I pledged “that the people clearly spoke that they wanted the board to be 15 members, and I am going to do everything I can do to support that.”
I embarked on answering the question of “CAN” the county board be decreased prior to 2022 which became a fight with elected officials in Rock Island County.  Intimidation and threats were made by a county board member insisting I stop or “people are going to get hurt” and “I should be very careful.”   
Documents on downsizing were taken from me after a board meeting in January 2013 to later surface in a political advertisement paid for by “Mike Smiddy for State Representative” containing allegations against me and Jim Wozniak regarding a request made for information compiled on private time, where no county resources or county email were used.  In my time on the county board, no one has ever asked me to lie.  Nor have I ever lied during my public service.
Jim Wozniak and I fought for and followed the will of the people.  That fight continues in false political attack ads.  Politicians should run on their record rather than manufacturing falsehoods about elected officials.  Democracy is not served when those committed to people are besmirched with falsehoods for political gain.
I was proven correct that the board could be downsized prior to 2022 and Jim Wozniak was serving the public by adhering to the will of the people.



October 10, 2014

Committed to placing downsizing issue on ballot as soon as possible

I am committed to put a referendum on the ballot to give the people a voice to downsize the Rock Island County Board PRIOR to the 2022 decennial reapportionment. I will educate the public on the pros and cons to this and they will have the final say.

Short speech at Ronald Reagan Barbeque on October 10, 2014


September 9, 2014

Referendum I presented at full county board meeting brought to Governmental Affairs

The referendum I drafted and made a motion to move to Governmental Affairs for placement on the next available ballot.

Link to Governmental Affairs Packet

Alternate Link to Governmental Affairs Packet



August 13, 2014

Interview on Jim Merten's "The Cities" on WQPT

The Illinois Attorney General has ruled that the board can be downsized prior to 2022. 

County Board Member Don Johnston and Drue Mielke discuss the released opinion from the Attorney General that states the board can be downsized sooner than 2022 if the "method of election" is changed by the people.

Watch the interview here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKFsGiOglM8


August 9, 2014-  Full County Board Meeting

Motion made by Drue Mielke for referendum to downsize board

The Illinois Attorney General has ruled that the board can be downsized prior to 2022.  I took the next step to put a biding resolution on the next ballot and to begin drafting in Governmental Affairs Committee. 

Link to September 9 2014 county board minutes


May 11, 2014

WQAD News 8 examines the downsizing issue

WQAD News 8 reporter Shane Simmons asks what happened to Rock Island County board downsizing issue, finds out who's holding up the process, what it costs to run the current board, and compares what's happening in Rock Island to Scott County.

Monday, May 12th, 10pm WQAD News 8. 
"We are going almost a year out here and I've not heard anything. It certainly isn't going away. The people demand an answer because they should."

Our State's Attorney requested a new opinion from Attorney General Lisa Madigan last March. That question asks if a county board can be reapportioned at a time other than a non-decennial census.

I have had bipartisan support to ask for an update on this request last October with fellow Rock Island County Board Member Scott Terry. This request was denied but now one year has passed.  The issue remains open and is not forgotten.


March 20, 2014

Your Rock Island County Board Report-  District 22 Newsletter is currently being distributed

I have hand delivered 90% of my district.  If you haven't received a newsletter, you can view below.  I will deliver an updated newsletter to the homes that I could not reach before the primary on March 18, 2014. 

You can view the newsletter here:   Spring 2014 Rock Island County Board District 22 Newsletter

February 27, 2014

We haven't answered the Downsizing question /
County could benefit from county administrator




Update Speech given April 23rd at the Milan Community Center

On Tuesday, April 23rd, I gave an update on the county board for the annual Lincoln Day event.  Here's a portion of what was presented in my speech:

So far, it’s been a busy year.

The issues we have had before us include:
  • The threat of a lawsuit over the condition of the court house
  • The public building commission referendum
  • The task of working on a new referendum to address the court house
  • A referendum regarding single member districts- a question that confused the voters and obscured the will of the people
  • Addressing issues in the county highway department
  • The Clean Line Wind Farm Transmission Line issue that affects Chris Filbert’s district and all rural district. 
  • Working to receive a new opinion from our Attorney General on downsizing- not an opinion from 1974 and awaiting its 40th anniversary.

I have been busy working on several issues specific to my district.

But in addition, despite much pushback, I continue in my pursuit to answer the question whether the county board can be downsized before 2022.

I am obligated to answer this question as 72% of the electorate voted in favor of board member reduction. I am pledged to do my job to assure we listen to the voters.

I have received veiled threats to intimidate-- and it only tells me I am on the right path and doing the right thing. I won’t back down from doing what I think is right.

I am not here to protect the few or to feather my nest. I am here to serve the public.

As Abraham Lincoln said “Right makes might, And in that faith, Let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

I believe that. It gives me strength.

I continue what I started on the Coal Valley Village Board.

  • Informing residents in my district by sending out a county board report to everyone in my district and maintaining my web site.
  • Continuing to work to assure that I give voice to the vulnerable and oppressed in my district, who do not have a voice.
  • Continuing to assure that the laws set in place to protect residents are also applied to those who need protection the most.

I received an email last week thanking me for real, visible progress that is occurring. By far….I didn’t work alone. But I assured that progress would happen.

I spoke up!

On the county board--- we’ve moved the mark.

  • We’ve moved the mark- by offering leadership that looks out for the real interests of the residents rather than the interests of the few.
  • We’ve moved the mark- by providing honest and accountable government rather than machine politics and business as usual.

But we still have a long way to go…

We are looking forward to even better days for our Rock Island County Board as we deliver on our promises of:

  • Limited Government
  • Government that is Effective
  • Responsible
  • Responsive
  • and Adheres to the Will of the People

In closing… I would like to tell you what a tremendous honor it is to serve on your Rock Island County Board!

Thank you!


April 13, 2013- 

The oath I took-  I won't be intimidated from my obligation to serve

I am continuing to do my job to represent everyone in my district. That includes follow-up on the non-binding referendum in November.  Our State's Attorney has been very helpful and responsive to my follow-up request.  I am pleased to report that progress is made in the letter being sent to our Attorney General to provide an updated opinion on downsizing the county board.  Thank you, Mr. McGehee, for your hard work during these very busy times in the county. 

From other areas though, I have received tremendous push back, threats, and veiled threats if I persist in getting the answer. 

I want to tell everyone that I am not intimidated nor going to back down from my obligation to serve the people who voted for me and to whom I took an oath to fairly represent.

I ran for office to be fair, to bring honesty and accountability to the county board and to assure ALL people in my district are represented and have a voice.  I have convictions that I believe in.  We may not all agree, but I listen to all sides and will represent everyone in my district and will vote with the will of the people in my district. This is why it is so important to me to send a letter out to everyone in my district and ask for feedback.

The video below is from early last year.  It tells who I am and why I accepted the challenge to run for county board.

I haven't watched it since I got elected but it still applies today.
March 29, 2013-  Good Friday
Notes on the Single Member District referendum:

This referendum was put on the ballot in October by the past county board. It was in reaction to the citizen's putting a non-binding referendum on the ballot stating "Shall Rock Island County elect 15 county board members from 3 districts with 5 members each?"

I am not sure why the November 6th referendum even mentioned single or multiple districts. It's direction was to decrease the size of the board.

You may view the discussion on this topic from the minutes of the October 2012 county board meeting here.  Excerpt from county board minutes on this referendum.

I have just included the portion that dealt with the issue but the full minutes are on http://www.rockislandcounty.org/CountyBoard.aspx?id=34617#CB

The reason given by the past board for adding this was "to help alleviate misinformation and confusion on the existing question on the ballot regarding possible reduction in board members."

It is my opinion that adding this referendum to our ballot on April 9th was in reaction to the November 6th referendum but not a service to the residents. I believe this referendum should have been removed as it confuses the voter (they just voted on this in November) and it will likely REMIND the voter that nothing has happened in response to their last vote. I have had several residents tell me it angers them to be asked again. I don't like when voters get angry.

Rather than looking at ways to follow the will of the people in looking at possible paths to downsize the board prior to 2022, we are now looking at similar issue. I was the only board member to aggressively pursue whether it is POSSIBLE to downsize the board outside the mandatory reapportionment. I believe it can be done and no one has presented evidence other than opinion from the Attorney General in 1976 that it cannot.

When I ask the downsize question, I don't get a "no." I have gone to Springfield and spoken to the Illinois State Board of Elections which agrees that the board could be downsized in 2016. When I ask the question, I get "well, it would be difficult but with a skillfully worded referendum, having all board members terms ending on the same time, and the county board passing an ordinance reflecting 15 members" it can be done. That's not a "no". Should the board be downsized? That's not the question I am working on. I am working on "can" not "should".

But to follow the will of the people in the last vote, I feel obligated to follow through and pursue downsizing that 72% said to do.

I support single-member districts as I wish to assure the rural areas of our county maintain the districts that represent them.

But, I find this question to be empty and not meaningful or helpful. It's my opinion that this referendum should have been removed given that 72% voted to downsize the board and this just muddies that issue. Personally, I favor single member districts but I served on the Coal Valley Village Board for 6 years as trustee and we all were serving at-large, meaning we had "one district".

Here's what I see as the pros and cons:

Pros for single member districts:

  • One person in which to contact
  • Your board member would have a smaller district in which to concentrate his efforts
  • Smaller districts make it easier for "the average guy" to campaign to be a public servant

Cons to single districts:

  • I really can't think of any. I think single member districts work.

Pros to multi districts:

  • You have more than one person representing you which implies that you can contact the person with whom might likely best understand your issue.

Cons to multi-districts:

  • Representation to rural districts may be diminished. Those districts would be combined with suburban districts
  • Candidates would have a much larger area to campaign, which would drive up campaign costs which implies people like me would find it difficult to enter that arena of public service




December 7, 2012-

Thank you!

Over the last year, I went out to meet everyone in our district-  many people who I represented on the Coal Valley Village Board and many that live in Moline and South Moline and Coal Valley townships. 

During the campaign, I have stressed that as an elected official, I represent ALL residents-- including the vulnerable who do not always have the loudest voice.  It was a close election and in my acceptance speech I stressed that now that the election is over I become the representative for all.  On the Rock Island County Board, I pledge to continue my mission to assure that the vulnerable in our community have a voice and to be accountable in how our county is run.  

There were many issues in this campaign but the one that stands out the most is the public’s will to decrease the size of the Rock Island County Board.  I will work with my fellow members on county board to begin the work that will achieve this goal.

We have much to do to make Rock Island County even better than it is.  Your thoughts and prayers were very much appreciated during the campaign and I ask for your prayers and ideas as I become your new Rock Island County Board member for District 22.  Please feel free to contact me.  I always listen.

Ready to serve,



Interview with Drue Mielke and County Board Member Don Johnston on KWQC

KWQC reporter Johnna Klossing interviewed Rock Island County Board Member Don Johnston and myself on the day after the election. 

4:00 airing on Wednesday, November 7th

5:00 airing on Wednesday, November 7th

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