John Light learning the ropes as Stephenson County administrator

BELOW: About John Light

FREEPORT — Stephenson County Administrator John Light takes orders from 22 bosses.

His job is to make sure the county functions smoothly, even if his bosses — County Board members — are mired, at times, in conflict.

The former human resources director for Kent County in Michigan, McHenry County and the Carpentersville School District replaced longtime County Administrator Russell Mulnix about a month ago. Light believes he’s up to the challenge.

“I feel excited,” Light said. “I’ve been very impressed with the people working in the county and the people in the community. I think my most important job should be to work for them and serve them. Hopefully, we’ll start to build a relationship the more work that I do for them and I look forward to that.”

Light is tasked with carrying out board policies, performing research at the board’s discretion, presenting and approving invoices, posting agenda and meeting minutes and any other projects that are needed by county staff and board members.

“It’s interesting having 22 bosses,” Light said. “It’s all part of the challenge.

If it was the same thing every day, the county wouldn’t be moving forward. The needs of the county are always changing and with that it’s our job to respond to those changes.”

Thirty-one people applied for the open position, said Stephenson County Board Chairman Bill Hadley. Light was chosen because of his human resources background and communication skills.

“We lost a great asset when Russ (Mulnix) retired,” Hadley said. “But we’re gaining a great asset also.”

Hadley said that final details are being worked out for Light’s contract with the county, but that his annual salary of $72,000 was a bargain compared with some administrators.

“The going rate is at least $80,000,” Hadley said. “Some of the applicants were looking for over $120,000 a year. Russ was making $79,000 so we actually are saving the taxpayers some money.”

Light expressed appreciation to the board for hiring him and said he was happy to be in Stephenson County. He was voted in by the County Board by an 11-6 vote in May.

“The cool thing about our government is that they’re (board members) citizens, too,” Light said. “In Springfield they might be career politicians, but here they work, too. My duties are what they assign me. I think the county has a lot of things going for it. I’m ready to learn all the ins and outs.”

Nick Crow: 815-232-0136;; @Crow_Nick

About John Light

Hometown: Woodstock

Occupation: Stephenson County administrator

Age: 41

Family: Wife, Kristin; 8-month-old son, Thomas

Education: Undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University, graduate school University of Colorado

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John Light learning the ropes as Stephenson County administrator
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