DeKalb Township is getting things done


With the election shenanigans and rough start of the new township board last year, I didn’t expect much from this public body at first. But eight months into it and they deserve credit for pro-public policies and practices.


This week, for example, the board reversed an earlier decision to remove agenda background material from its website. Background will once again accompany meeting agendas posted online. Other examples of inclusivity and openness include:

  • Offering Zoom access at a time when other public bodies have abandoned it. Live online access to meetings is not just for pandemics, but also helps people with disabilities and incompatible work schedules to participate.
  • Posting meeting recordings to its YouTube channel for anytime viewing.

In reacting to public criticism over unpopular political comments made by clerk Andrew Tillotson following his appointment to the township, it looked like the board might try to drive its clerk to resign. At first they made the same mistake as City of DeKalb did with its clerk by rejecting the whole of Clerk Tillotson’s meeting minutes when they contained errors. However, within a couple of months they’d stripped the drama out of the situation: corrections to meeting minutes are now approved via board amendment in a clean, dignified way.

Projects & Events

Besides making improvements to meetings, Mary Hess, township supervisor, appears to be putting in the time. The result already is a list of achievements belonging to the township within a year of her being seated. A few examples:

  • Using the YouTube channel to post short video introductions to community resource organizations the township helps to support.
  • Hosting paper shredding/recycling events — which, by the way, included in-person participation of board members and clerk.
  • Partnering with Illinois Department of Public Health to hold a free COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic.
  • Signing an intergovernmental agreement with DeKalb Public Library to provide free library cards to township residents who do not live within the library’s jurisdiction.
  • Obtaining a defibrillator for the township building in response to increased constituent foot traffic.

If you don’t already, I would recommend visiting the township website once or twice a month to make sure you don’t miss an event of interest to you.

Bigger Picture

Here are my observations and interpretation of DeKalb Township’s performance since the election dirty tricks of early 2021. Public backlash against the betrayal was reasonable — and for someone(s), deserved. The township’s circling of the wagons afterward in the face of that storm was likewise understandable, but the circling resulted in secrecy measures that continued to feed public mistrust.

To me, this latest move of restoring agenda packets to the website signals a bit of unclenching and perhaps a hint of good faith, which is a crucial ingredient always to be looked for (and unfortunately MIA in some of our other local governments). Township has also demonstrated an achievement orientation and is not phoning it in.

In the spirit of supporting government when it deserves it, I’m awarding a goo-goo bouquet to DeKalb Township today.