Term limits, school upgrades among Northwest suburban ballot questions

  • A referendum on the primary ballot in Elk Grove Village would impose term limits on the mayor and village trustees. The elected government is known for having one of the longest streaks of continuity in the suburbs.

    A referendum on the primary ballot in Elk Grove Village would impose term limits on the mayor and village trustees. The elected government is known for having one of the longest streaks of continuity in the suburbs. Courtesy of Elk Grove Village

 
 
Posted1/20/2020 5:30 AM

While their names may not be listed, a March 17 ballot question in Elk Grove Village will be a de facto referendum on Mayor Craig Johnson and his long-tenured board of trustees.

The binding municipal retroactive term limits question -- if it survives remaining legal challenges -- is among the queries voters in the Northwest suburbs will consider when they go to the polls March 17.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Though it is a primary election with Democratic and Republican presidential, legislative and countywide candidates, those who want to vote only in referendums can request a nonpartisan ballot.

The Elk Grove question would ask voters whether the mayor and village trustees should be able to serve no more than two consecutive 4-year terms. If approved, it would prevent four longtime incumbents -- including Johnson, the mayor since 1997 -- from running again in April 2021.

A Cook County judge last week declared a 2019 state law barring retroactive local term limits unconstitutional, but a remaining objection from a Johnson-backed political committee is now making its way through the courts.

Another Elk Grove question is advisory: whether the village should have local neighborhood community events.

Here's a look at other referendums on tap in the Northwest suburbs:

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Tighter term limits in Rolling Meadows

Voters will decide whether aldermen from the city's seven wards should have tighter term limits than they do now.

The binding question, if approved, would make limits for city council members consistent with the mayor's position, which since 1995 has been capped at two consecutive 4-year terms.

A ballot measure limited aldermen to three consecutive terms effective with the 1993 election.

Clerks' positions in Des Plaines, Wheeling

Voters in the two towns will decide if the clerk's job -- currently an elected post -- should be appointed instead.

Clerks attend council and board meetings and are paid for part-time work, but under the proposed changes, they would be appointed government staff members instead.

If approved, the new arrangement would take effect in April 2021.

That's when the terms of Des Plaines City Clerk Jennifer Tsalapatanis and Wheeling Village Clerk Elaine Simpson end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Rosemont seeks advice

The village's 1,600 registered voters will be able to weigh in on two advisory questions: whether the village should overturn its long-standing ban on video gambling and whether the community should allow recreational marijuana sales in town.

Mayor Brad Stephens said informal conversations with village board members and residents show opinions on both controversial issues are "pretty much down the middle."

The village board enacted a temporary ban on recreational pot sales through June, giving officials enough time to prepare regulations should voters recommend overturning it.

The existing Rosemont Elementary School within the town's gated community would be demolished, and a new one built next door, under a plan that seeks voter approval in March.
The existing Rosemont Elementary School within the town's gated community would be demolished, and a new one built next door, under a plan that seeks voter approval in March. - Daily Herald File Photo, 2010
New District 78 school

Those who live in the village's gated community will decide if a new Rosemont Elementary School should be built.

A binding question seeks approval to issue up to $40 million in bonds for a new K-8 school, which would be built on open space next to the current building, which was erected in the 1960s.

That would enable a seamless transition for students to finish school in the old building, then start a new year in the new building, according to Superintendent Kevin Anderson.

The old building would be demolished, creating open space again, he added.

Though the single-school district would have to borrow funds, Anderson believes property taxes would stay at the same level, because two tax increment financing districts are expiring. That would allow funds to flow to the school instead of being directed to the village for economic development projects.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 wants voters to authorize borrowing $147 million. DETAILS ON PAGE 4.
  Barrington Area Unit District 220 wants voters to authorize borrowing $147 million. DETAILS ON PAGE 4. - Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer, July 2017
District 220 projects

The district is seeking authority to issue $147 million in school building bonds for a variety of projects to include paying for basic improvements at all schools in areas such as safety and security, plumbing, electrical, roofing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Voters last April rejected a request to borrow $185 million for facility upgrades.

Due to existing debt the district expects to pay off in 2021, approval of the ballot measure would have the owner of a $500,000 home still see a net decrease of about $75 a year. Without the referendum, the same homeowner would see a reduction of $468.

Other measures

In other questions, the South Barrington Park District is taking another shot at gaining permission to sell a vacant 34-acre lot at Bartlett Road and Route 59 that officials say is not needed. Voters rejected the same ballot measure in 2018.

And Hoffman Estates voters will weigh in on three advisory questions: whether the village should encourage the creation of a full interchange at Beverly Road and the tollway; whether the village should encourage the development of entertainment venues; and whether it should advocate for judges to be appointed based on merit.

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