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updated: 11/2/2010 11:26 PM

Naperville voters back districting, term limits

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Naperville voters on Tuesday fundamentally changed the way their city will be run by approving both the creation of term limits beginning in April 2011 and the installation of a district system for city council members.

With roughly all the vote counted, unofficial tallies showed about 72 percent of voters supported limiting the number of consecutive full terms one person may serve as councilman or mayor to three, beginning with the April election.

Doug Krause, the city's longest serving councilman, was not happy with the results late Tuesday.

"People are upset and lumping us in with Congress and Springfield and wanting to limit those folks," Krause said. "I have a voting record that constituents can use to either keep me in office or send me on my way."

Councilman Richard Furstenau, however, called the term limits a "nonissue" that he can live with.

"Very seldom do we have a situation where a councilman continues on for that long," he said, naming Krause as the only current member fitting the mold.

Voters, however, surprised several councilmen by approving the creation of a district system in the city. Roughly 66 percent of voters approved dividing the city into five compact and contiguous districts, each with its own representative to the council. Three council members and the mayor would continue to be elected at-large. New district lines would be drawn by the city manager once every decade when census numbers are released.

"I'm a little surprised, but hey, if that's what they want, that's what they'll get," Furstenau said. "That's going to change the face of the council and not necessarily for the better."

Furstenau said he expects a majority of council members will continue to run at-large and against each other.

"A number of us talked tonight and we're all very surprised by this," he said.

Krause, however, blamed the decision on an uneducated voting population.

"I don't think our residents fully understood the impact this is going to have," Krause said. "Right now a citizen can call any one of nine of us to get help. Once this takes effect, they'll only have one contact."

Both councilmen said the referendum questions would have been better suited to April's municipal election.

The districting can only be done during a mayoral election year but aldermen fear the city will not have time to draw the five districts and have them approved by the city council by the April 2011 election.

"Hopefully we can convince the state to give us until 2015 or else we're going to be in trouble," Furstenau said.