Term limits added to Arlington Heights ballot
Arlington Heights residents will vote on whether elected officials should have to follow term limits as part of the April election. Trustees and village presidents would be limited to two 4-year terms.
Daily Herald File Photo
Arlington Heights residents will vote on a measure that would mandate term limits for village trustees and the village president as part of the spring election, officials said Monday.
Resident Bill Gnech turned in a petition with more than the required number of signatures Monday afternoon to place a binding referendum question about term limits on the April 9 consolidated municipal election ballot, Village Clerk Becky Hume said.
If a majority of voters approve the measure, trustees and village presidents would be limited to two four-year terms or eight years of service over their lifetime, Gnech said.
"It's good to have new blood in all forms of government — local, state and federal," Gnech said. "Eight years is a really long time."
Gnech said officials elected in 2013 will be grandfathered into the term limits, so they could get 12 years of service, or three terms, but anyone elected starting in 2015 would have to observe the eight-year limit.
"There are a lot of smart people in town and a lot of great ideas. It can get stagnant no matter who is in there," he said.
As three men vie for the position of village president when longtime Mayor Arlene Mulder retires, the issue of term limits is one that separates the candidates.
Both Mark Hellner and Ron Drake signed Gnech's petition, while Thomas Hayes, who was elected to the village board with Mulder in 1991, said he was against the idea.
"We already do have term limits — every time people go in the voting booth, they decide," Hayes said. "The voters decide how long the term of elected officials should be."
Hayes said he also worried about mandated term limits pushing good officials out of office, something Mulder said she was concerned with as well.
"It might take away that strength of institutional knowledge that has served this community so well," she said.
Hume said he needed around 2,500 signatures, or 8 percent of the number of people who voted for governor in the last election, to require the village to place the referendum question on the ballot, but Gnech said he got 10 percent more than was needed just to be safe. Hume said this is the first time the village has had a resident-sponsored referendum on the ballot since the 1970s.
Gnech said he will be making yard signs and running the campaign to encourage people to vote for term limits in April but added that this is somewhat of a starting point for his own political life, as he plans to run for village board in 2015.
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