Good morning, troops. It's Wednesday, Sept. 4.
In almost a year away from Tazewell County government, Brett Grimm has seen enough to believe change is needed in at least one executive office.
Grimm also believes changes promised in that office, county auditor, haven't been fulfilled.
Thus, Grimm has declared his candidacy in the 2020 auditor race. The Morton resident and former Tazewell County Board member is seeking the position held by Shelly Hranka, a fellow Republican who was elected in 2016.
The primary election is next March. Hranka has signaled her intent to run for re-election.
Hranka has sued county officials in response to unduly stripping her position of duties, funding, staff and materials, she claims. According to Grimm, the lawsuit has cost the county several hundred thousand dollars.
"I hate wasting money. I hate losing money. I hate not being efficient," the 42-year-old Grimm said. "I see that happening in this office like crazy.
"Right now, you can't talk to anybody down there because of her lawsuit. She can't talk to anybody without a couple of people present. There's no communication. It's just fight, fight, fight. ... It needs to stop."
Before Hranka was elected, the board modified the auditor's duties and reduced the position's salary. Grimm was a board member then, as he was for about nine years.
Last year, county voters decided to keep the auditor's position elected, not appointed. Hranka also ran for county clerk, in the GOP primary against Grimm — who left his board seat to run — and eventual general-election winner John Ackerman.
Hranka finished third in the primary. She said she planned to use the clerk's position, in part, to rally support to maintain an elected auditor.
That topic has ebbed and flowed for decades, in part because Tazewell is one of few Illinois counties that elect an auditor.
Grimm said he wants the auditor's office to stick to its statutory requirements. The main one is reviewing county bills before they're paid.
The previous auditor, Vicki Grashoff, helped prepare the county budget, but that didn't appear to be a statutory duty. The board shifted that responsibility, as well as some auditor employees, to the office of the county administrator.
Inertia in the auditor's office has resulted from the conflict between Hranka and other county officials, in Grimm's view.
"When I sat on the board, we were trying to find something to make things better," Grimm said. "What we were looking for never happened, and it's still undone."
Grimm also said he harbors no ill will against Hranka and doesn't hold her solely responsible for the problems. But Grimm does fault Hranka's approach.
"She doesn't play well with others," said Grimm, who works in construction and futures trading. "She's kind of combative, and people don't respond to that. It just escalates.
"If you can just get along with people and talk to them and try to figure out a solution, that's where this needs to go."