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Time Line Still Not Clear, but Committee Will Propose a Referendum on Dual Elected Duty

Mayor's announcement, expert opinion weigh on need for ballot question.

Residents will likely see a referendum within the year on the question of elected officials holding two offices simultaneously. Whether this question is on the November or the April ballot has yet to be decided.

A legal opinion and an announcement from Mayor Pete DiCianni both preceded Monday night's Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee discussion of dual elected duty.

It's been a contentious issue for DiCianni, who is running for a position on the DuPage County Board in District 2. Prior to Monday, he has maintained that he would continue to serve as mayor if elected to the County Board in November.

However, an hour before the Finance Committee meeting, DiCianni said he would if elected.

This came a few days after the city received a on the matter from Jack Siegel, noted municipal legal expert. Siegel said that Elmhurst, as a home rule community, can pass an ordinance preventing a council member from serving more than one elected position, but not before residents vote on the issue via referendum.

Siegel was at the committee meeting Monday to deliver his opinion in person. Seventh Ward Alderman Mark Mulliner, who proposed council action on dual duty last month, prefaced Siegel's remarks by reminding residents that “this issue is not about Pete DiCianni. I've said all along ... this is an issue about what is right and wrong for the city of Elmhurst.”

Siegel reiterated the need for referendum. He delivered his findings with a brief lesson on home rule. He referenced case law and legal opinion that, in some cases, he participated in.

“Whenever you change the nature of a municipal office ... this needs to be done by referendum,” he said.

He cautioned that the Illinois General Assembly still has the power to undo a municipality's actions with a 3/5 majority of both houses of the assembly along with a clear statement on what was being limited. Siegel cited a case in Evanston—one he lost—where the legislature intervened to curtail city powers.

The committee agreed to go forward with a referendum. As of now committee members are split on when the question should appear on the ballot. Mulliner urged the committee to push for November, as the presidential election would likely bring more voters to the polls.

But 5th Ward Alderman Scott Levin wondered if April would be better, as that is traditionally the time for municipal elections. He also did not want to appear to be reacting to DiCianni's County Board candidacy.

City staff will research the timeline for putting the question on both ballots and work with city legal counsel to begin drafting referendum language.

In thanking Siegel for his opinion, Mulliner referred to him as “the dean of city attorneys.”

“Fortunately, I've spent my life doing this,” Siegel said.

Scott June 26, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Thank you Alderman Mulliner for your persistence on this and I encourage you to continue to push for the referendum in November. DiCianni's decision to simply walk away from his responsibilities as our mayor says it all. To him, his commitment to Elmhurst is a throw away. Well, good riddance. We won't miss you.
D L June 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Scott, I honestly think you speak for a lot of Elmhurst citizens. I have always thought there was a personal agenda and motive to seek the Mayor's office. More power, more money and a longterm pension to boot. Now it has been confirmed !!
NancyC June 26, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I vote for the referendum in November, in case he has a "change of mind/heart" after the County Board Election so that dual elected duty is we the people's choice not any one individual politicians.
Darlene Heslop June 27, 2012 at 02:35 AM
i attended last night's committee meeting. until 5:59 pm, that committee was prepared to move forward with a referendum in november. at 6:01 pm, with crisis averted, all of a sudden we need to delay in order to have a "properly worded and completely legal" referendum question, and it should be done with the municipal elections, since this is a "municipal issue". alderman mulliner was correct - there will be more people voting in november than in april, for one, and number 2, just because dicianni made this decision doesn't change what the people of elmhurst want, which is the opportunity to decide what they want their government to look like and how they want their officials to serve. they all know what the timetable is - this isn't rocket science, folks - they have until the city council meeting of august 20th for full council approval of a legally binding referendum question to be on the november ballot, which would mean that the finance committee has until the committee meeting of august 13th in order to come up with the question and approve the recommendation. considering that they already have a working ordinance, and alderman levin is a practicing attorney with government experience, plus, we have legal council we pay a very hefty sum for, not to mention, between tamara brenner and bob howard, i'm sure that in about a day, 2 days tops, a suitable, legally sound referendum question could be written and approved. so really...they have more than enough time.
Bill Angel June 27, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Ms. Heslop, you forgot to factor in DiCianni is Mike Madigan's guy for DuPage County. DiCianni has a lot of power. Shame on Hipskind, Levin and York for being part and parcel of the cesspool of corruption. Notice they all had the exact same talking points. Remember York is up for re-election and the educated and informed Elmhurst voter will not forget the delay and stall tactics. "its criminal not to"? Chair Cronin initiated and got an overwhelming yes vote (18 members) for a similar referendum in like 3 part-time days. How did Cronin a leader of close to a million get er' done? If you really want to stir up the hornests nest.....Call out Pete Silvestri via the AG or Cook County Board. Aks them to enforce the law!
Diana June 28, 2012 at 11:50 AM
It is a shame that these alderman are trying to stall the issue it sure doesn't make any sense to me they must be voted out when there time is up and get some one in who is for the people. Diana
Darlene Heslop June 29, 2012 at 12:14 AM
bill, did you mean the quote earlier this year by alderman york, "it's dangerous not to have any increase in the tax levy... ."? - then dicianni makes his big announcement and all of a sudden, there's no increase? just like monday night, they are all set to follow the timetable for a november ballot question...but when the crisis is averted (i have a few ideas as to what went on behind closed doors prior to that big announcement)...all of a sudden it will take until april? i'm well aware that alderman york is up for re-election in 2013, 'cuz i live in his ward. dicianni is skippy's, donny's, jimmy's, and mike's "guy" for du page county - they want concessions regarding o'hare expansion from du page county, and know they have the perfect pawn in the eager beaver to please, pete, since he wants to play with the big-boys. kudos to the du page county board for doing the right thing - maybe the finance committee could take a page out of their book.

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