An Open Letter to Elmhurst Aldermen: Let the People Decide—in November
A delay of vote on dual elected duty serves only the interests of a few.
On Monday, July 16, City Council will be considering two reports from the Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee regarding the placement of a ballot referendum on the question of whether elected officials in the City of Elmhurst shall be prohibited from holding simultaneously two elective offices in the State of Illinois.
Both reports agree that this question should be put to the voters and the debate has devolved into the timing of when the voters get to have their say. I submit to you that the machinery of government should not be used in the service of the few at the expense of the many. Allowing this vote to be delayed until next year, as called for in the majority report, would benefit the few at the expense of the many.
There is strong community support for this question to be put to the voters at the next available opportunity as demonstrated by the collection in two weeks time of well over 1,000 signatures of Elmhurst voters on a petition to that effect. The electorate should be permitted to have a say on this matter in a meaningful time frame and that time is now; it should not be the place of City Council to deny the voters their voice at this time. Council should support the minority report which calls for this measure to be put before the voters expeditiously, on the November 2012 ballot.
There has been no change of heart on the part of those who think it's a good idea for one politician to hold simultaneously two elected offices. Those who hold this view would prefer that the voters at large have no say on the matter at all, and if the voters must have a say they would like it to be postponed as long as possible. They still stand by the notion that the State's Attorney's opinion is "only an opinion."
The State's Attorney opinion is "only an opinion" in the same way that the theory of gravity is "only a theory." A legal opinion is an expression of an attorney's understanding of the law as it relates to a particular matter; it is not simply an expression of a personal thought or belief.
One might expect that a legal opinion rendered by the attorney representing DuPage County would be acknowledged as holding considerable weight by those seeking election to DuPage County government. Instead, we have seen efforts to circumvent the State's Attorney's opinion through use of the legislative process in Springfield.
The appeal to City Council to delay the vote on this referendum is part and parcel of the same mind-set, namely using the governing board to achieve objectives favorable to the specific interests of a few. The people's voice should not be held hostage in this manner.
Both reports agree that this referendum measure should go forward, even though our mayor has announced that he will resign his municipal post should he be elected to the County Board, because this is a general question of policy going forward, not merely a reaction to a dilemma that has ostensibly been resolved.
The mayor's recent announcement should not affect the timing of the appearance of the referendum question on the ballot. Political aspirations of individual politicians should not trump the interests of the voting public and should not be a factor in the consideration of when this policy question comes before the electorate.
Similarly, suggestions that the public may be confused or that it must wait until municipal elections are simply rationalizations to avoid the definitive action that is clearly called for. Questions of public policy may be properly put before the electorate at any regular election and there is no justifiable or meritorious reason for bypassing the General Election to be held in November as a forum for putting this question to the public.
The council has gone through a proper process in determining its authority and ability to act on this matter. As determined by that process, the question must be handed to the voters to decide by referendum. The only action required of council is to put the measure on the ballot without delay. Let the voters decide. And whether the referendum passes or fails, so be it. If our government really is one of the people, by the people, and for the people, then it is incumbent upon you, our elected officials, to allow the question to be put to the voters at the first available opportunity, namely at the Nov. 6, 2012 General Election.