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updated: 8/7/2014 7:59 PM

Term limits may be on Arlington Hts. ballot in November

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  • In 2009, Bill Gnech was fed up with flooding in his neighborhood and camped out at Northwest Highway and Arlington Heights Road to voice his displeasure. Now, Gnech is trying to get term limits passed for local elected officials.

      In 2009, Bill Gnech was fed up with flooding in his neighborhood and camped out at Northwest Highway and Arlington Heights Road to voice his displeasure. Now, Gnech is trying to get term limits passed for local elected officials.
    Bob Chwedyk/Daily Herald, March 2009

 
 

An Arlington Heights resident is trying again to get term limits for elected officials enacted in Arlington Heights, and has presented petitions that may get the initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot.

This is the second time Bill Gnech has tried to get a term limits petition on a ballot. In 2013 he filed a petition, but it was criticized as poorly worded and thrown off the ballot due to its format and the number of signatures.

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On Monday, Gnech came back to the village clerk's office carrying 273 pages of petitions -- with room for 10 names on each page -- said Arlington Heights Village Clerk Becky Hume.

The proposed question is, "Shall the Village of Arlington Heights limit the number of terms of office for Village President and Village Trustee to no more than two consecutive four-year terms for each position?"

The petitions are in the clerk's office, and people can view them and file objections to them until 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11.

If no objections are filed, the question will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, Hume said.

If an objection is filed, the village electoral board will hold a special hearing later next week. The petition needs 2,448 valid signatures for the initiative to be placed on the ballot, but Gnech said he has more than 2,700 signatures.

Gnech said he consulted with several lawyer friends this time and took the wording straight from a Naperville referendum on term limits.

"This worked in Naperville so there's no reason it shouldn't work here," he said. Naperville voters approved term limits in November 2010.

Gnech said his priority is getting the question. After that it's up to the voters.

"It might fail, but at least people will have the opportunity," Gnech said.

Gnech has made term limits his one-man crusade over the past few years, joking that he lost 15 pounds from all the walking he has done to parks, train stations and going door-to-door for signatures around the village.

"I think eight years is plenty of time. You can have eight years as a trustee and then eight years as mayor. I think that's long enough," Gnech said. "We need to get fresh ideas."

Gnech said the question is written as a binding referendum using the word "shall," meaning that if it passes, trustees would be subject to term limits. He believes the limits, if passed, would not be retroactive on current elected officials.

Village President Tom Hayes served for 20 years as a trustee and is in his first term as mayor. Trustees Joe Farwell and Bert Rosenberg have both been on the board more than 10 years.

But, Gnech said this is not a vendetta against any particular politician.

"I know all these guys. Tom (Hayes) is an honest politician. This isn't about them," he said.

None of the current trustees signed the petition, he said.

Mayor Hayes did not respond to a call for comment on Thursday afternoon, but has previously said he does not believe in term limits and would rather have voters decide through elections how long officials remain in office.

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