Some want a Chicago recall law. How did Buffalo Grove do it?

  • David Wells shows more than 2,000 signatures on petitions to recall village trustee Lisa Stone in 2010.

    David Wells shows more than 2,000 signatures on petitions to recall village trustee Lisa Stone in 2010. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Updated 1/7/2016 8:08 PM

A little more than five years ago, Buffalo Grove made local political history by recalling a trustee, Lisa Stone, removing her from her post on the village board before her term ended.

It came to mind this week as Gov. Bruce Rauner and a few others have voiced support for a state law that would allow for the recall of a Chicago mayor.


That raised the question: If Chicago is asking for a state law for recall, why could Buffalo Grove do it?

Because in Illinois, some communities with so-called home rule powers -- usually the bigger ones -- have written their own recall laws. The state constitution allows for the recall only of a governor, but it also doesn't specifically outlaw local ordinances from being created.

Some lawmakers might argue Chicago should create its own without the legislature, but leaders would have to summon the political will to do so.

Buffalo Grove did pass an ordinance, and it remains in effect today.

"And thank goodness," former Mayor Elliott Hartstein said. "We've only had one of them."

The history

Back in the early 1980s, a state court ruled that Northlake -- and therefore other smaller communities that didn't have as much power -- couldn't have a recall ordinance.

The attorney in that case pushing for recall? It was future Gov. Pat Quinn, who would back the recall-a-governor measure decades later after the Rod Blagojevich fallout.

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Perhaps not known to many, other local communities already have recall powers. In 1980, Arlington Heights approved a recall ordinance that stands today.

Assistant Village Attorney Robin Ward knew about it off the top of her head when asked, and she said she doesn't recall anyone trying to use recall in Arlington Heights in the more than 27 years she's worked there.

Local support

Among the supporters of a Chicago recall proposal sponsored by Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, are a few suburban Republicans, including Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine.

Morrison said the idea that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration would withhold information about the Laquan McDonald shooting is troubling.

"As a conservative state representative, I support good government," Morrison said. "That's not a partisan issue."


And state Rep. Mark Batinick, a Plainfield Republican, has proposed amending the state constitution to allow the recall of all statewide officers and state lawmakers, not just the governor.

Family ties

In going through the immense list of presidential convention delegates this week, we noticed that former Republican candidate for Congress Kathy Salvi of Mundelein is a delegate this year for 2012 Illinois primary runner-up Rick Santorum.

Salvi's husband, former Senate candidate and state lawmaker Al Salvi, is an alternate delegate for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.


The Daily Herald Springfield bureau this week welcomes a new reporter, Mary Hansen.

Hansen comes to the paper via the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting graduate program. She's a native of the Pittsburgh suburbs and will be around until the summer.

Last year, we announced reporter Erin Hegarty would be with the bureau "until lawmakers and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner agree on a budget."

We won't be making that mistake again. (Erin now covers suburbs out of our Arlington Heights office.)

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