Batavia group questions why city hasn't put home-rule referendum on ballot yet
Which of the two Batavia home-rule referendums will be listed first on the Nov. 6 ballot?
Proponents of the binding one, which seeks to take away the city's home-rule powers, are asking about that, as the city has yet to deliver their petition to the county clerk, as of Thursday morning.
On Tuesday night, aldermen gave preliminary approval to putting their own advisory question on the ballot, asking people if the city should keep home rule. They will take a final vote Monday.
"The reason you haven't submitted our petition is because you want yours first on the ballot so you can push people to vote the way you want them to," said Yvonne Dinwiddie, a frequent critic of the council who circulated petitions for Batavians for Responsible Government.
City administrator Laura Newman said the deadline for people to object to Batavians for Responsible Government's petitions had just ended Monday afternoon, and the city has 45 days to turn the paperwork into the county clerk.
Alderman Alan Wolff, who favors keeping home rule, assured Dinwiddie the city would file the group's petition before its own.
The state elections board recommends that referendums be put on the ballot in the order in which they were initiated, according to Matt Dietrich, the board's public information officer. BRG filed its petition Aug. 6.
Dinwiddie's husband, Carl, objected to the wording of the city's question. He said it was improper electioneering because the question asks whether the city should keep home rule "in order to pay for the city's general obligation bonds with home-rule revenues and avoid increasing property taxes," and listing an estimated property tax amount. It is also putting in how it would lose its crime-free housing law.
A person applying deductive reasoning would conclude the city is asking people to keep home rule, he said. Governments are prohibited from taking stances on propositions.
But Wolff defended the question, saying the city was presenting facts.
Yvonne Dinwiddie also disagreed with Newman's explanation that the binding referendum question, asking if the city should "cease" having home rule, was confusing because a voters have to vote "no" to keep home rule.
"I don't think the question is at all confusing. 'Cease' means to stop," Dinwiddie said.