Elmhurst City Council members will likely take up a discussion Monday, July 16, about whether a referendum on dual elected duty should be brought to voters in November or April.
At issue is whether Elmhurst officials should be allowed to hold two elected offices simultaneously. The matter was by committee member Mark Mulliner after Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni declared he would if elected to DuPage County Board in District 2.
It has been a contentious issue for the mayor, with a vocal contingent of Elmhurst residents and some aldermen coming out in opposition to his serving two elected posts. The committee that said Elmhurst, as a home rule community, can pass an ordinance prohibiting dual elected duty, but not without a referendum.
After the legal opinion was released last month, DiCianni held a press conference to announce that if he was elected to the County Board, . But the committee, which met again on Wednesday, has always said the matter transcends DiCianni and that it plans to proceed with an ordinance regardless of the mayor's announcement.
After Wednesday's committee meeting, it is likely that a proposed ordinance will be in front of the full City Council on Monday. However, the committee is not in agreement about the timing of the referendum. Mulliner is strongly in favor of a November referendum to take advantage of a large voter turnout, among other reasons.
"I don't want to push this back," he said. "I want to move this forward so we can do something on Monday. We can spin our wheels forever for April, but this has now gotten in the way of regular city business."
Committee Chairman Steve Hipskind and committee member Scott Levin have come out in favor of an April referendum, citing concerns about affecting DiCianni's campaign for County Board and the fact that April is traditionally the time for municipal elections. Levin did not attend Wednesday's committee meeting.
Vice Chairman Kevin York on Wednesday said that if he had to sign a recommendation tomorrow, he's not sure which way he would vote.
A Board Chairman Dan Cronin. The county referendum is advisory, however, while the Elmhurst referendum would be binding.
Committee members were concerned that Elmhurst voters would be confused by two referenda on the same ballot.
The county referendum, which hasn't been filed yet, would ask something like "should individuals be permitted to hold two or more elected offices simultaneously." A "no" vote prohibits dual offices.
On the contrary, the proposed Elmhurst referendum as currently written states, "Shall the mayor, aldermen, clerk and treasurer of the city of Elmhurst be prohibited from simultaneously holding other public elective offices in Illinois." A "yes" vote prohibits dual offices.
Committee members debated rewording the city's referendum so as not to confuse residents, but Mulliner said time is of the essence, and the public is smart enough to figure it out.
"I think the public is well aware and engaged in this," he said. "I think they are well enough informed that they will know which way to vote. I'm not concerned."
Community members are, indeed, informed. They've even taken it upon themselves to collect signatures on a petition to get the matter on the November ballot no matter what the City Council decides.
"We've got more than 1,300 signatures that are all notarized and ready to go," resident Tamara Brenner said. "And we will have well more than that by the time Aug. 6 rolls around. This will be filed Aug. 6 regardless of what you do. If you aren't going to do it, we will. We will not stop until this is on the ballot in November."
The City Council has until Aug. 20 to approve an ordinance in time to place a referendum on the November ballot.
"The public is involved and very anxious to move this forward and has begun that process on their own," Mulliner said. "As representatives of the public, we need to make the statement loud and clear that we're going to get this on the November ballot, rather than making them go to all the work to do it."
The committee will present two reports to the City Council on Monday. A majority report, which will presumably be signed by Hipskind, Levin and possibly York that is in favor of an April referendum, and a minority report signed by Mulliner (and possibly York) in favor of a November referendum.
"Two reports. We'll open it up for debate and see where it goes," Hipskind said.
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