The Tazewell County Board on Wednesday voted to approve a resolution making Tazewell a Second Amendment sanctuary county, and to place a referendum in the November 2018 ballot that would replace Tazewell County’s elected auditor with a county appointed one.

Items on the county board agenda included Fiscal Year 2019 budget parameters, a resolution in support of the Second Amendment, and a referendum to eliminate county auditor as an elected position and install an accounting professional appointed by the county board.

Before proceeding to agenda items, the board invited comments from members of the public and Tazewell County employees. Several area residents spoke for and against a request to make Tazewell County a sanctuary county for legal gun owners.

“Upon taking your elected positions on the Tazewell County Board, you took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution,” said Steve Dennis of Pekin in an address to the board members. “Please don’t let people who are against this resolution prevent you from doing the right thing. The egregious attempt by Springfield politicians to override the Second Amendment is why we need the Tazewell County Board to pass this resolution.”

Because of intense public interest in the question of making Tazewell a Second Amendment sanctuary county, the board moved the question to the top of the evening’s agenda and unanimously voted to approve the resolution.

DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan attended the meeting to voice his opposition to the board’s proposed referendum to replace Tazewell County’s elected auditor with a hired accountant.

“Today, I was looking at your agenda and saw that you were going to talk a bit about the Second Amendment,” said Grogan. “I am a proud member of the NRA (National Rifle Association), and a parallel occurred to me. The reason we have a Second Amendment is that we don’t entirely trust our government. The reason you need an auditor is because you don’t entirely trust your government. Sometimes, the people make a good choice when they elect officials. Sometimes they make a bad choice. But with an elected official, voters get to make a new choice every four years. If you hire or appoint someone, you will know how hard it is to get rid of someone you don’t like. My suggestion is you respect the people’s choice.”

Tazewell County Board member Russ Crawford expressed concerns that the referendum may have been proposed because of perceived animosity between Tazewell County Auditor Shelly Hranka and some fellow board members. 

 “There are people on this board whom I have a lot of respect for who have personalized this,” said Crawford. “They have made it about Shelly Hranka. This is not about Shelly Hranka. It is about the elected office of Tazewell County auditor. If you have any kind of issue with Shelly, this is not the place to take that out. If you vote yes to this resolution, you are telling the taxpayers, voters and citizens of Tazewell County that you can’t have a watchdog.”

The resolution to introduce the referendum passed by a vote of 13-7, and the referendum will be placed on the ballot in the November 2018 election.

“At no time was this personal,” said Mike Harris, Tazewell County board Ad-Hoc Auditor Review Committee chairman. “We did a lot of research, a lot of interviews and a lot of phone calls before making a decision. All we are doing is putting the issue on the ballot. Now, it will be up to the voters.”

The board also unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2019 budget parameters, the purchase of traffic marking paint, and a bid on pipe culvert lining for the Heritage Lake Association Special Service Area.