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Oncken still considering his County Board status

2 new members were recently appointed

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 10:40 p.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – A week after DeKalb County Board members filled two vacancies, board member Riley Oncken is still considering quitting because of questions of whether the office conflicts with him serving as a conflict public defender.

Oncken, a defense lawyer and Sycamore Republican, was appointed to the County Board in March 2013, about four months before DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert named him to one of four special public defender positions. Oncken was poised to be appointed chairman of the Law & Justice Committee on Wednesday when he and other members were surprised by an unpublished Illinois Attorney General’s opinion suggesting he might not legally be able to hold both positions.

Oncken expects DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack’s office will finish reviewing the opinion and provide advice about whether the offices conflict by the end of the week.

“Once I receive [the letter], I’ll be in a position to make a better decision about what the future holds,” Oncken said.

In the meantime, Ruth Anne Tobias, D-DeKalb, has been appointed the vice chairwoman of the Law & Justice Committee. She may take over the committee chairwoman spot if Oncken resigns.

“For now we haven’t crossed that bridge yet,” County Board Chairman Jeff Metzger said.

Meanwhile, Dianne Leiftheit, a DeKalb Republican, and Sandra Polanco, a DeKalb Democrat, were appointed to fill unexpired terms on the board Wednesday. Leiftheit replaced Julia Fullerton and Polanco replaced Derek Tyson’s position after both former members moved out of their district.

“I’m excited to have both of them come aboard,” Metzger said. “I know we have two individuals that are going to work hard.”

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