Elmhurst aldermen will have to wait two more weeks to hear a on whether the City Council can restrict officials to one elected position at a time.
Jack Siegel, a veteran municipal attorney hired by the city to investigate the issue, will provide an opinion for the Elmhurst Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee before its next meeting June 25, City Manager Jim Grabowski told the committee Monday.
But that's not stopping one committee member from taking the next step.
"We want to keep this process moving forward," said 7th Ward Alderman Mark Mulliner, .
Mulliner presented a draft ordinance to the committee that states the City Council will utilize its home-rule power to prohibit Elmhurst public officials from serving in more than one elected position at a time. The ordinance would pave the way for a November referendum asking citizens of Elmhurst whether they think elected officials should be limited to one office.
A portion of the draft ordinance reads: "It is hereby declared and decreed to be the policy and law of the city of Elmhurst that Elmhurst public officials may not serve or continue to serve in their capacity as an Elmhurst public official if he or she is elected to and sworn in to any other city, county, or state office in a consolidated or general election."
The issue has been the topic of debate among officials and residents ever since Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni he wants to retain his position as mayor if elected to the DuPage County Board in November. DiCianni won the Primary for DuPage County District 2 in March, along with Elaine Zannis and Sean Noonan.
DiCianni has not changed his position, even though DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin in January issued a legal opinion stating the two offices are incompatible. The matter reached the state legislature earlier this year when Sen. Don Harmon (D-39th, Oak Park) introduced an amendment that would have allowed dual elected duty.
The question for the city's attorney is: Can aldermen change city code to limit elected officials to one office at a time even if legislation is passed that says otherwise?
"When other motions are being made at the state level, we need to make sure under our home rule ability (we can) say we don't accept this even if the state legislature pushes this down our throats," Mulliner said. "We want to make sure we know what our options are."
Several residents in attendance at Monday's committee meeting wondered why it is taking so long to get a legal opinion.
"I am in full agreement and support of what Alderman Mulliner has done on our behalf as citizens of Elmhurst, the state of Illinois, the county of DuPage and the United States of America," Darlene Heslop said of the draft ordinance. "This goes a long way to push this process further. I don't understand why it's going to take six weeks to get a legal opinion, but that's the wheels of government."
If the issue must be pushed to the next committee meeting, then at that time the committee should be prepared to act on it, she said.
"Anybody I talk to is very interested in this and … wants this taken care of," she said.
, who also has been very outspoken against dual elected duty, said he was pleased that the process is moving forward, but the window to get the issue on the November ballot is closing quickly.
"Some of us are sensitive to the timeline," he said. "Especially for something this important. We're not talking about a stop sign or a sidewalk. It's about a fundamental change in government."
Fourth Ward Alderman Kevin York said the process takes time, and they are within a reasonable time frame to bring the issue for a vote.
"It takes time to vet potential attorneys, so there was some time involved there," he said referring to the time between deciding to hire an outside attorney and actually hiring one.
Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin said Siegel is "the dean" of city attorneys.
"We didn't want the perception of impropriety," Levin said. "The person selected is independent, he doesn't represent any other towns our city attorney (Don Storino) is representing. He's been practicing law for about 60 years.
"It's going to be a very important opinion to us. (We know) it's important not to delay. We're sensitive to the timing."
Aldermen told Grabowski they would like Siegel to attend the next Finance Committee meeting, and Mulliner plans to have him take a look at the draft ordinance and recommend any changes.
"We want to at least have something in place so we can move this forward," he said.
Levin said the ordinance is a "starting point."
"I want to see the legal opinion," he said. "We can jump into it with all eight of our feet at the next meeting."