WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Discord at the Courthouse

Jan 17, 2020

Scott Schwerer is back as chairperson of the McDonough County Board. But not everyone is happy about it.

Schwerer chaired the board for 12 years before members replaced him with George Dixon in December, 2018. 

Dixon stepped down last month, saying the stress of the job was hurting his health.

Board member Terra Litchfield said some of that stress was brought on by Schwerer and County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes. Litchfield said the clerk’s office provided no assistance with the transition in board leadership and instead created an environment of animosity. She said that “most definitely” hindered county government’s ability to function.

“You need to have a team and you need to work together.  I’m not saying we have to agree upon everything. But we need to work together and we need to work together for the best for the county. And that wasn’t done this past year,” Litchfield told TSPR after this week’s county board meeting.

She said Dixon tried to make things work but received no cooperation from the county clerk’s office.

County Board Chairperson Scott Schwerer asks a question of County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes during this week's county board meeting.
Credit Rich Egger

DeJaynes was not available for comment Thursday.

When TSPR asked Schwerer if he feels there’s been animosity in the past year, he replied, “I wouldn’t have a comment on that. I want to go forward. I don’t want to talk about the past.”

Schwerer said he believes all situations can be resolved through compromise, and that he looks forward to compromising and respecting everyone’s point of view.

14 county board members voted in favor of appointing Schwerer as chairperson. Litchfield and Marcia Twaddle cast the only votes in opposition, One board member abstained, two were absent, and two board seats are currently vacant.

Schwerer said several people asked him to seek the nomination. He said he is ready to take the reins again.

“99% of the time I enjoyed this job a great deal. I worked with a lot of great people. I enjoy giving back to the community and I have the time to do that and I look forward to it,” he said.

Schwerer also confirmed that Danette Phelps resigned as the county’s executive assistant. The board hired her in October. Some county employees protested the hire, saying Phelps’ pay was well above the standard beginning pay for courthouse employees.