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ROCK ISLAND - Tammy Weikert is set to become the latest employee in Rock Island County to take over an elected position without winning an election.

Ms. Weikert is expected to be appointed by the Rock Island County Board next week to replace circuit clerk Lisa Bierman, who is taking an early retirement package. Ms. Weikert has worked in the office more than 17 years.

Ms. Weikert will follow in the footsteps of county auditor April Palmer, state Rep. Pat Verschoore and 14th Judicial Circuit Judge Linnea Thompson, all of whom were appointed to elected offices before being elected to the office by voters.

Former state senator Mike Jacobs made headlines in 2005 when he was appointed to take over from his father, Denny Jacobs.

Ms. Bierman, a Democrat, was appointed as circuit clerk in 1999 to replace Marylin Esslinger when she retired. 

Ms. Palmer, also a Democrat, was appointed in 2011 after former auditor Diana Robinson retired. Ms. Robinson was appointed to the position to replace current county board member Don Jacobs after he stepped down from the position he had been appointed to after Andy Gianulis left. Mr. Gianulis has been appointed to the position after Herschel Criswell died in office. 

Mr. Jacobs said he didn't see any problem with the various appointments, which often involve experienced staff taking over from their bosses. 

Officials appointed to their jobs before an election do gain the advantage of incumbency in the next election if they choose to run.

Sheriff Gerry Bustos is another elected officer holder who was appointed to the position. He was named after former sheriff Jeff Boyd was forced to resign after being charged with harassing a woman.

Other Rock Island County sheriffs who were appointed to the job without being elected include Michael Grchan in 1990 and Jim Shaw in 1977.

County clerk Karen Kinney had the chance to be appointed to her job in 2010 before the election, after Dick Leibovitz retired, but turned down the offer.

Ms. Kinney was a county board member and said she was contacted by then board chairman Jim Bohnsack, who asked if she wanted to be appointed to the clerk's job.

At the time, she told a reporter, "I don't want it this way. It's just not right to do that. It's sidestepping the election process." 

 

Ms. Kinney said it would have been odd for her to take over as interim clerk because she wasn't working in the office at the time and was a county board member.

The appointments in Rock Island County mentioned above are all Democrats, which is not unusual given that the party has held power in virtually all the elected county offices for decades.

Republican county board member Drue Mielke said he had no problem with appointments to elected offices in cases such as Ms. Bierman's when an office-holder retires.

He said he also was appointed to an elected office in 2007, when he was appointed to the Coal Valley Village Board to finish the term of a trustee who had moved out of the area.

 

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