He runs the town. He's accused of doing crack. And he won't step down. Welcome to Hebron, Illinois
Robert Kruse now knows how people in Toronto felt when Rob Ford was mayor.
"We all made our jokes about it. But now, of course, the joke's on us," he tells As It Happens host Carol Off.
Kruse lives in Hebron, Illionois, where the village president is resisting calls to resign, after being charged with possession of crack cocaine.
Police charged John Jacobson in late March — after they found the village president unconscious in his bathroom in his underwear — with cocaine possession and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Despite a petition calling for him to step down, Jacobson says he's not going anywhere. He told residents at a public meeting Monday that the alleged wrong-doing has nothing to do with his ability to govern.
Kruse doesn't buy that argument.
"We're in a tornado zone. What if a disaster hits in the night time?," he says. "We've got an old downtown district, what if there's a fire? What's he going to do? Wake up after he passes out at night and get up in the morning and read about it in the papers?"
Kruse says the village president is an embarrassment to a town that has lots to be proud of. The water tower commemorates the year that the high school basketball team became state champions. Native daughter Monique Weingart was on America's Next Top Model. Resident Ian Johnson was on America's Got Talent for yo-yoing. And a local man has one of the world's largest collections of barbed wire.
"That's the kind of people we have in our town and that's what we want to be known for," he says.
Kruse says people around town are now joking about painting their water tower to look like a giant crack pipe.
Jacobson was elected in 2013, shortly after an earlier charge of cocaine possession. He plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge. In 2014, he plead no contest to reckless driving to resolve a drunk driving case. He also lost his job at a local college for viewing pornography at work.
But he cannot legally be removed from his post as village president unless he is convicted of a felony. Kruse is skeptical that the trial will conclude before Jacobson's term is up in 2017. He says his only hope is to shame Jacobson into leaving.
"If enough people start talking about it, I'm sure we can put some pressure on him."