An elected county board is the primary policy making body of each of 102 counties in Illinois. In 17 lightly populated counties in the central or southern parts of the state, the county board consists of three commissioners elected at large for staggered three-year terms. These counties do not have political townships. Another 84 counties are governed by a board whose members typically represent a specific portion of their county. These counties all have political townships that share certain governance responsibilities with the county. Cook County, which contains Chicago, operates under a special set of circumstances. The Chicago portion has no political townships, while the suburban section does, and the Cook County Board differs in various ways from other Illinois county boards. A county may elect a chief executive as well as a number of other officers, such as coroner, recorder, assessor, and auditor. More counties have chosen the option of appointing a county administrator than have elected a chief executive. All counties elect a sheriff, county clerk, and treasurer.
Every county with an elective executive and each municipality with a population of more than 25,000 is a so-called home-rule unit. This home-rule status provides the local government with a high degree of authority and power in its own affairs. Municipalities with fewer than 25,000 people may elect to become home-rule units. Counties and municipalities that are not home-rule units possess only those powers specifically granted to them by the constitution or by law. Chicago and most other cities have the mayor and council form of government. Many of the medium-size cities have appointed a professional city manager, thus reducing the role of the mayor. Boards of trustees and a board president, all elected, govern most villages. Illinois elects two U.S. senators and 19 representatives. The state casts 21 electoral votes. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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