AURORA - A controversy is brewing in the 25th State Senate District, where State Senator Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora) now holds two elected offices - one in the State Senate and the other as Kane County Board Chairman.
Lauzen, who was sworn in as Kane County Board Chairman December 3, was in Springfield the next day, voting on state issues in his role as state senator. His senate term will officially end January 9th, when the 98th General Assembly will be sworn in at noon. His first full-fledged county board meeting is planned for December 11th. Unless Chairman Lauzen steps down from his Senate seat, he'll vote on expected hot button issues in the waning hours of the 97th General Assembly's two week long lame duck session in early January.
Traditionally, persons elected to new offices resign just before they're sworn in, focusing on the new office's challenges and leaving former responsibilities to the successor. A court challenge in 2007 held that state law disallows a county board member from holding two elected positions at the same time.
Lauzen argues that as county board chairman, he is not a member of the board itself, thus, the state law and court findings do not apply to his situation.
Waiting in line to be sworn in to represent the 25th Senate District in Jim Oberweis, a political rival of Lauzen's, going back to 2008. At that time Lauzen and Oberweis both ran in a special primary to succeed retiring Congressman Denny Hastert. The race was bloody. Oberweis won the primary, but lost Hastert's seat to Bill Foster. In 2010, Foster lost to Congressman Randy Hultgren in a 51 to 45 race.
When Lauzen announced his intention to run for Kane County Board Chairman in 2011, Oberweis announced he would seek Lauzen's 25th Senate seat. Oberweis was challenged by two Republican opponents in the 2012 primary, one which Lauzen favored - Dave Richmond, who received 25% of the vote, to Oberweis' 41%. Oberweis was victorious in November and is placed to take office in January 2013.
Lauzen had no response to queries about the issue.
Editor's note - We mistakenly identified Cliff Surges as Oberweis 25th district Republican primary challenger. Surges challenged Karen McConnaughay, then-Kane County Board Chairman. Lauzen supported Surges in that 31st District primary race.