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DeKalb Township Supervisor to step down amid move as township trustees grapple with next steps

Jennifer Jeep-Johnson, DeKalb Township Supervisor who's served since 2017, is exiting her role a year early because she's moving, she said.
Jennifer Jeep-Johnson, DeKalb Township Supervisor who's served since 2017, is exiting her role a year early because she's moving, she said.

DeKALB – Jennifer Jeep-Johnson, DeKalb Township supervisor who has served since 2017, is exiting her role a year early because she’s moving, she said.

The future of the soon-to-be vacant role is uncertain, however, the township’s Board of Trustees held a special meeting Wednesday night to begin discussing next steps.

Johnson said Wednesday a potential option would be for the senior trustee to step is an interim supervisor until a new person can be identified or elected, or create a new township administrator role to carry out duties.

“The point of having the meeting today was for them to have an opportunity to discuss what they want to do, so that at our regular meeting next week they can carry out whatever it is they want,” Jeep-Johnson said, adding her official resignation will come at next week’s trustee meeting.

When asked whether she’d be interested in filling an appointed DeKalb Township administrator role were it to be created, Jeep-Johnson said she and the township trustees have not discussed details yet.

“When I called my trustees to let them know I was moving, one of them, who is the most likely person to take the role of supervisor because she’s the senior trustee, asked me if I would consider helping through the transition. That is the extent of the conversation that has been had.”

Members of the public weighed in on the news Wednesday before the trustee meeting, expressing concern about the special meeting’s agenda and whether the transition and correlating details such as salary, duties and compensation, would be discussed openly.

Listed items on Wednesday’s agenda included a discussion and possible action to appoint, define duties and set compensation for an interim administrator, effective Aug. 12.

In an email shared with the Daily Chronicle, Jim Luebke, chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Party and DeKalb County Board member who’s also a past township trustee, expressed concern about the process happening mid-term.

A new DeKalb Township supervisor would not be elected until the April 2021 election.

“The voters of DeKalb Township deserve better than this rushed effort to fundamentally change the structure of our Township government,” Luebke said, emphasizing he spoke not in any official capacity except as a citizen.

Luebke instead called for the position to be posted as vacant, then elected to fill the remainder of Jeep-Johnson’s term through a special vote of the trustees, to keep whoever fills the position accountable to the voters.

Jeep-Johnson said contrary to public opinion, the board will not be changing any aspects of the elected township supervisor position, but could appoint an administrator “as is more common than not in a township of our size.”

She said the trustee board needs the opportunity to discuss all available options for filling the role in an interim capacity or otherwise until the next election.

“Not everything is nefarious,” Jeep-Johnson said. “In this case, the literal only thing that’s happening is that I am moving and the board needs to decide how to handle it.”

As for what’s next, she said she’s also not sure, but called her service the “privilege of my life.” She was also appointed as city clerk for the city of DeKalb in 2015 after numerous previous clerks left it vacant mid-term. Her role as township supervisor came after her husband, Eric Johnson, was elected to the role prior.

“This is my home, this is where I’ve lived longer than any place, I’m very involved in this community and I love this community,” Jeep-Johnson said. “So I don’t know. I need to take a little bit of time and figure it out. Like every other parent in America, I’m also figuring out how to do remote learning, move to a new community.”

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