Naperville merger question called unlikely to appear, but case continues

Attorneys for three communities opposing an annexation referendum to merge their towns with Naperville say the issue's chances of appearing on the April 4 ballot are extremely remote.

The people behind the annexation push, who so far have not come forward publicly, did not follow proper procedure to get the question on the ballot, said Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, attorney for Lisle Mayor Joe Broda, at a court hearing Thursday.

Further, Krafthefer said, Thursday marked the deadline to certify all questions to appear on the ballot, and the question had not been approved, she said.

Because proper ballot placement procedures were not followed, Krafthefer said she and attorneys representing Warrenville Mayor David Brummel and Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham-Picek filed motions to dismiss the matter from consideration by DuPage County court.

But attorneys representing the petitioners say the towns' attorneys also haven't followed proper procedure for objecting to the proposed ballot question. They are requesting that the question, which would ask, for example, "Shall the Village of Lisle be annexed into Naperville?" be allowed to appear for voters in all four affected communities to decide.

The DuPage County Election Commission has not received any direction to place the annexation question on the ballot, Assistant Executive Director Joseph Sobecki said Thursday. However, if the court later orders it to appear, he said the election commission must comply, despite the elapsed deadline.

Judge Paul M. Fullerton presided over a brief hearing about the issue Thursday morning. But at the request of attorneys for the petitioners, he made no decision and set another hearing for Feb. 8 - nearly two weeks after all questions for the ballot are supposed to be set.

Krafthefer said Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge want a definitive answer as soon as possible to quiet fears that this annexation push of mysterious origin will continue.

"The pendency of these actions is causing a lot of stress in these communities that don't want to be merged into Naperville," Krafthefer said.

Before attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the question, the three mayors and individual residents in Warrenville filed objections to the petitions that could place the question on the ballot. Their objections said the petitions did not contain enough valid resident signatures to meet the ballot placement threshold of 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous election.

Mayors including Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico say they do not want to combine their communities. Each municipality is well run with distinct characteristics, the mayors say, so merging would be costly and complicated with far-reaching implications on other taxing bodies and the way services are delivered.

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