Galesburg Election Commission Chairman responds to calls for abolishment

Roger Williamson, Chairman of the Galesburg Election Commission is hitting back against claims by some Knox County Board members that the office should be shut down.

County Board member Jared Hawkinson said at last Wednesday’s meeting that the county pays for the commission’s budget and it would save taxpayer dollars to have the County Clerk’s office oversee all elections.

Williamson says that it’s not accurate to say that the county is paying for the Galesburg Election Commission.

He says the commissioners set the salary for the commission’s staff, and a formula from the state determines the office’s budget and Knox County passes along property taxes collected, they way they do for things like school districts.

That means that the county wouldn’t necessarily get that money if the commission went away, except for the additional funds they would receive for running a larger office.

He adds that there is the question of whether the county clerk’s office would be able to accommodate more election duties.

He also says the county and city don’t operate with the same voting equipment so there would be an expense for a transition.

Williamson said Hawkinson did not, nor did any other members of the board, communicate with him with questions or concerns regarding the commission, outside of a meeting with Chairwoman Pam Davidson a few months ago concerning their budget.

The Galesburg Election Commission was created in 1908 by voter referendum with the idea of having an independent commission overseeing Galesburg elections, as opposed to a partisan elected official.