Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney officially announced he will not seek a second term during his State of the County address on Thursday.
Between the constant power struggle between Haney and the members of the Board, Haney says he thinks now is the time to focus on fixing the issues facing the County.
“I came to a final decision here in the last few days.” Haney said. “With a series of events that began before I took office with numerous changes or attempted changes to the job of Chairman that I was elected to do in December 2016, it’s a completely different job if a job at all than what it started as.”
Haney says he hopes his decision will allow the Board to narrow in on the more important issues.
“We want to not have me worry about re-election and having voters say, ‘Is Frank recommending this because it’s about his position?” he said.
Board Member Angie Goral (District 13) says she thinks Haney has been in over his head since taking office.
“I was a little bit surprised but on the other hand I wasn’t,” she said. “I think it’s been a real challenge for him and anytime you have someone running for public office, like Chairman of Winnebago County or the mayor of a major city, you need to have some background in government.”
Board Member Jim Webster (District 2) agreed, saying HAney made no mention of anything he personally accomplished during his speech.
“No personal accomplishments on his end and perhaps that why he decided not to run again,” Webster said.
“I was never going to run and be a 3 or 4 term chairman. I was only going to do one or two,” Haney said. “The reason I decided on one versus two [terms] is, things have changed so much. We want to make sure the focus stays on the issues, not vendetta politics, not this endless set of changes. We want to fix that problem so it’s not a problem for the next guy or girl.”
Haney will stay in the position until December 2020.
“We’re taking it one day at a time. We got a long way to go in this position. I got like a year and a half, there’s a huge list of things I want to get done,” he said.
Some of the issues Haney says he wants to tackle while still in office: blight, the public safety building in downtown Rockford, and raising the reading levels of children living in poverty.