Term limit opponents file objection to Elk Grove referendum

An organizer of the effort to reject term limits in Elk Grove Village formally filed an objection Monday to a referendum that would effectively oust the town's longtime mayor and other trustees from office.

In the 320-page written objection, Gil Schumm, treasurer of the Committee to Oppose the Retroactive Term Limits Referendum, alleges term limits organizer Tim Burns committed a "pattern of fraud" by not being the true circulator on some petition sheets he turned in.

Schumm's committee collected affidavits from 38 signers of petitions on which Burns is listed as circulator. They said the person who asked them to sign wasn't Burns, who is a white man, but in some cases a woman and in others a black man, according to Schumm's objection.

"We have been apprised by numerous residents who have spoken about individuals coming to their door with 'dated pictures of circulators' and other documents, so this was very much expected," Burns wrote in an email Monday night.

The objection also notes that a state law signed July 19 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker requires municipal term limits approved anytime after Nov. 8, 2016, to be prospective, not retroactive.

Burns' binding ballot question would ask voters whether Mayor Craig Johnson and village trustees - many of whom have served for decades - should be able to serve more than two consecutive 4-year terms. If approved, it would bar four of them from running for reelection in April 2021.

Burns' attorney Burt Odelson has argued the new state law is unconstitutional, and he indicated he would challenge it if brought up as part of the objection process.

Schumm's objection also includes about 230 affidavits from petition signers who say they want their names taken off. An August mailing sent by Johnson - and funded by his $20,000 contribution to the committee - invited residents who believe they were misled about the referendum to sign an affidavit and put it in a return envelope to his home address.

Kitty Weiner, the committee chairwoman and Johnson's political adviser, brought to village hall Monday two 3-inch-thick binders containing signed and returned mailings from residents.

"They didn't understand what they were signing," Weiner said. "They were misled."

The objection filed Monday also contests some of the approximately 2,500 signatures Burns' committee turned in after a July petition drive for other reasons.

"We think the form of question is contrary to the term limits statute, which is now the law of the land," said John Fogarty, attorney for the anti-term limits committee. "And the process the proponents sought to put it on the ballot is not the best workmanship, and we are calling them on it."

Earlier Monday, the village electoral board reconvened to take up the first objection to Burns' referendum, originally filed Oct. 22. A Cook County judge had remanded the objection back to the three-member panel, but two of the members - Johnson and Trustee Nancy Czarnik - are recusing themselves because they would be directly affected by the referendum. The board is set to meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 23, after Cook County Judge Sharon Sullivan appoints two public members in Johnson and Czarnik's place.

While Monday marked the last day for residents to file petitions for a referendum, objections can be filed until Dec. 23.

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