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updated: 7/24/2012 1:04 PM

Push on for term limits in Arlington Heights.

Group circulates petition to get issue on ballot in Arlington Hts.

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  • This is the logo being used by the group seeking term limits.

      This is the logo being used by the group seeking term limits.
    Courtesy of Bill Gnech

 

Bill Gnech has no doubt Arlington Heights residents will vote on term limits for the village board next spring.

Gnech said Monday he and four other organizers of the campaign have already gathered approximately 2,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot for the April 9 election. The number needed is 2,447, or 8 percent of the 30,593 residents who voted for governor in 2010, said Becky Hume, village clerk.

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The proposal would limit trustees and the village president to two 4-year terms and a total of eight years in their lifetime, Gnech said. A village president elected after serving a term as a trustee could have only one term.

"People support it because they're looking for new blood," said Gnech, adding that he thinks residents are more inclined to look critically at officials at times like this when the economy is bad. "I think we'll get 6,000 signatures just to show how serious it is."

Gnech insists the campaign is not against Village President Arlene Mulder, who served two years on the village board before being elected president for the first time almost 20 years ago.

However, in 2009, the most recent time Mulder ran, Gnech sat at busy intersections with signs that said "No More Mulder." At that time, he said Mulder was not helping with flooding in his neighborhood just west of Prospect High School, while Mulder said she refers such complaints to the appropriate village department to review.

Mulder said she has no strong feelings one way or another on the issue.

"Term limits is an issue that some people say that's what elections are for," said Mulder, who has indicated she is likely to run again.

"The village of Arlington Heights has done quite well without them," electing great officials before she was chosen and will continue to when she is out of office, she said.

Gnech said he worked hard for Trustee Mike Sidor last year, but Sidor would never have been elected if Thomas Stengren had not retired after serving 20 years. Thomas Hayes was also first elected to the board in 1991.

"There's a big brick wall at city hall," said Gnech. "If you're not blessed by Arlene Mulder, you're not going to get anywhere near that office as a trustee. There are a lot of great people in town, and we want to give them a chance to be in local government and do a great job."

Saying she decides who is elected is "an insult to the electorate of our village," said Mulder, who said residents are astute, engaged and highly educated.

She did wsay, however, that she endorses incumbents she has worked with and respects when they run for re-election.

Many people who sign the petition ask first if it is for congressional term limits, said Gnech, who tells them he's starting local.

Gnech, who is an architectural photographer, said he has no plans to run for office.

Des Plaines and Rolling Meadows have term limits for their mayors and aldermen.

If term limits were put into effect in Arlington Heights, the limits for current officials would start after they were instituted, meaning Mulder could run for another two terms.

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