Term limits still hot top in one town

By Ames Boykin
Daily Herald Staff
Published8/1/2008 12:04 AM

Change and experience - the biggest political buzzwords around the nation - have become the talk of Des Plaines as well.

Des Plaines aldermen held a special committee meeting Thursday night to gauge interest in abolishing the term limits voters approved 10 years ago. About 40 people attended the two-hour meeting at city hall. Seven of the 20 speakers were against term limits, saying they prefer experience, while the remainder said they like change and new voices on the council.


Aldermen are looking at putting a question on the November ballot to ask voters again about term limits. They will continue discussion and possibly vote at their Aug. 18 council meeting. Term limits, however, can only be overturned by voters.

With term limits, Mayor Tony Arredia, four aldermen and City Clerk Donna McAllister will have to leave their posts.

"I find the timing of this to be very interesting," resident Brian Burkross said.

Arredia, 1st Ward Alderman Patricia Beauvais, 3rd Ward Alderman Laura Murphy, 5th Ward Alderman Carla Brookman and 7th Ward Alderman Don Smith, who are all bound by term limits, said they have no re-election plans. Arredia, Beauvais, Smith and 4th Ward Jean Higgason support putting the issue before voters in November. Smith wants two questions on the ballot with the second asking about term limits for the city clerk.

Former Des Plaines resident Vince Powers, who led the term-limit petition drive 10 years ago, returned to city hall to accuse aldermen of being self-serving.

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"I don't know why we're here tonight," Powers said. "The vote on term limits was 3-to-1."

Some officials took offense.

"There is nothing self-serving about this," Beauvais said. "This job is a service."

In spring 2007, three aldermen had to leave due to term limits. One of them, Tom Becker, on Thursday urged aldermen to put the term-limit question to a vote as it's been a decade since the last decision. "People have the right to change their mind," Becker said.

Bob Hinde, another former Des Plaines alderman, supports term limits because incumbents hold an advantage over challengers. "After four years, you got an army of IOUs," Hinde said.

But resident Mary Francis opposes term limits. "I think it deprives me of my right and freedom of choice," she said.

Resident Beverly Becker, no relation to the former alderman, led a drive to put the issue on this year's primary ballot but fell short. "I'm really afraid that we're going to have inexperienced people," Becker said.

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