DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – During last week’s Vermilion County Board meeting, member Jerry Hawker said he had never seen the reports that were passed out by a fellow board member.
WCIA 3 crews spoke with him after he had the chance to review the documents, which he says are “full of falsehoods.”
“Gender has absolutely nothing to do with this at all,” Hawker said.
In a December email to the Vermilion County Board Chairman, Animal Control Director Kasey Snyder described a phone call Hawker during which she says she told Hawker she didn’t have time to schedule a meeting with him. She says he responded with “well little girl, if that’s the attitude you’d like to have with me then I can play that game too.”
Hawker denies saying that to Snyder.
“I told her very clearly that that was the day that I was meeting with all the department heads. I told her if she didn’t have 15-20 minutes, which I can’t believe she wouldn’t have been able to squeeze that in for a chairman of her committee,” he said.
Fellow board member Kevin Green wants Hawker removed from the Health and Education Committee, which oversees Animal Control. He handed folders to the rest of his colleagues Tuesday – containing the email and two sexual harassment complaints filed against Hawker.
“There is no kind of sexual conduct in any way with this young lady,” Hawker said. “I have never met with her privately.”
After reviewing the more than 20-page packet, Hawker says his biggest issue is the connotation of the term sexual harassment. Documents say the harassment falls under a “subtle,” non-physical category.
We asked whether he would also disagree with the phrase “harassment based on gender.”
“That would’ve been a better name but I would still disagree with it. Anything that I had done had nothing to do with her gender,” Hawker said.
Snyder reported she felt “singled out” by Hawker because she is a woman, and that he used “severe and pervasive” intimidation tactics with her.
“I am not to say that my persona is a mouse, I’m not to say that. I can come forceful in things. But I treat women the same as men,” Hawker said.
We asked Hawker about a line that says “the final straw” that led Snyder to filing a report was the phone call in which Snyder says he called her a “little girl.”
“I’m sure I called her little lady because that’s what I do. If that’s offensive, I’m sorry,” Hawker said.
The bottom line – Hawker categorically denies claims that he treats women “worse” than men in the workplace, and the claims that he belittled, intimidated and scrutinized Kasey Snyder.
“Government is like anything else. Through the grapevine, I heard she was complaining but I had never seen the actual allegations or been told the actual allegations until that night,” Hawker said, referencing Tuesday’s meeting.
A 2021 complaint investigation claims Hawker used similarly “aggressive and abusive communications” with Elections Commission Executive Director Sandra Delhaye “on a continued basis to discourage her and shut the election commission down, in his words.”
“I would like the Election Commission shut down. I will tell you that and I will tell everybody. Not because just Sandy Delhaye, because it cost us $300,000 over what it would cost in the county clerk’s office,” Hawker responded.
Delhaye’s report also says it “appears to have started with a city election issue that resulted in Jerry Hawker’s unsuccessful attempt at litigation” on a ballot issue Delhaye was involved in.
“I think that’s just put in there for a little extra fodder,” Hawker said.
Over email, Kasey Snyder said she “never would have expected something such as this to be an issue I’d be dealing with in 2023.” She also said: “I’d love to come to work, make a difference for my team, the animals and the people who love them, then go home so I can enjoy my family, reset and do it again the next day.”
Board Chairman Larry Baughn did not respond to our request for an interview.