YORKVILLE – Todd Milliron of Yorkville got from a courtroom what he has not been able to get at the ballot box: a win.
Milliron has run for a seat on the Kendall County Board seven times but has never been elected.
Yet Milliron has managed to secure a big win in his battle with the County Board over the method used to determine board members’ term lengths.
The County Board approved a settlement agreement July 18 that hands Milliron a legal victory without acknowledging any error or wrongdoing on its part.
Kendall County Clerk Debbie Gillette will draw numbered pingpong balls from an opaque container before the County Board’s Aug. 2 meeting to satisfy the requirements of the settlement agreement and to determine whether board members will serve four- or two-year terms.
The legal drama began last year when the County Board decided to abandon the random drawing method and instead instituted a system using election vote totals to determine the term lengths, with the top vote-getters getting the four-year terms. That generated a lawsuit from Milliron, who pointed out that the Illinois Constitution proscribes that term lengths be determined “by lot.”
There are two County Board districts, with five board members elected from each. Every 10 years, the entire 10-member County Board is up for election to allow for redistricting after the decennial census. Terms of office are staggered so half the board seats are up for election every two years.
On Aug. 2, 2022, the board approved an ordinance instituting the system based on vote totals. Milliron, who was a candidate in District 1 under the independent Kendall County Party banner, filed his lawsuit on Sept. 19.
The new board members elected in the Nov. 8 election were seated the following month, with term lengths based on their performance at the ballot box. But as the new year dawned and the lawsuit went before a judge, it quickly became apparent that the board’s vote-total system was in trouble.
The Kendall County State’s Attorney’s Office, responsible for defending the County Board in court, did not attempt to argue the merits of the case, but instead sought to have the case thrown out of court on the grounds that Milliron had failed to win a board seat and therefore had no standing to file a lawsuit.
Kendall County Associate Judge Joseph Voiland rejected that argument, ruling that Milliron’s status as a voter and resident of Kendall County was sufficient.
After several court appearances, Kendall County State’s Attorney’s Office Civil Division Chief Jim Webb and Milliron’s attorney Ed Mullen met privately in Voiland’s chambers June 29 to discuss a proposed settlement agreement.
County Board members had reviewed the deal in closed session two days before.
In the resolution approved by the County Board on July 18, its acceptance is portrayed as a practical move in light of the pending election calendar, with the period for circulating nominating petitions starting Sept. 1.
“The Kendall County Board understands that, as a matter of fairness to potential candidates, those potential candidates should be aware which County Board seats are up for election at the 2024 election cycle prior to the time for circulating nominating petitions,” according to the resolution. “Clarity as to which County [Board] member seats will be up for election in the 2024 election cycle cannot be obtained while [the lawsuit] remains pending.
“In the interest of clarifying which County [Board] member seats will be up for election prior to the time for circulating nominating petitions and upon the guidance provided by the Kendall County State’s Attorney, the Kendall County Board agrees to amend the process ... for setting term lengths.”
Under the agreed order, the county clerk will first conduct a drawing to determine whether District 1 or District 2 is to receive the initial allotment of three four-year terms.
Then, drawings will decide which board members receive four-year or two-year terms.
Milliron addressed the board before and after its vote approving the resolution and asked the board to reimburse him for the $3,117 he spent on attorney and court fees. The board did not indicate whether it might approve the request or not.
“We have corrected an error that was made but it came out of my pocket,” Milliron said. “You received bad legal counsel.”
The state’s attorney’s office and Milliron will be back in front of Voiland on July 27 to formally enter the agreed order.
Milliron will be looking for another victory in 2024. He plans to make his eighth attempt to be elected to the County Board.