Should Des Plaines strengthen term limits? A new referendum could be coming
Just weeks after Des Plaines voters upheld term limits for elected officials, the city council on Tuesday will debate toughening the policy.
Mayor Andrew Goczkowski has proposed asking voters whether he, aldermen and the city clerk should be limited to just two terms, rather than two consecutive terms.
Those 10 officials have been restricted to two consecutive, 4-year terms since 1998. They can run for additional terms after breaks in service.
The council will take up the proposal when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday. They'll consider putting the plan to voters as part of the April 4 consolidated local election.
Last month, nearly 77% of Des Plaines voters rejected a proposal to remove term limits for the aldermen and clerk. The mayor wouldn't have been affected.
"It is clear that Des Plaines voters support term limits," Goczkowski said Friday. "We want to ensure that they can shape how those term limits work."
This summer, Goczkowski supported eliminating term limits for aldermen and the clerk. At the time, he said the mayor should continue to be limited to two terms, and he maintained that stance Friday, comparing a mayor with the term-limited president.
Term limits haven't kept former city officials from retaking office in Des Plaines.
Fifth Ward Alderman Carla Brookman, who was reelected to a second-straight term in 2021, also served on the council from 1997 to 2009. Her husband, Jim, held the post for two terms in between hers.
In the upcoming April election, former Alderman Dick Sayad is challenging incumbent Artur Zadrozny for the 4th Ward seat. Sayad served on the council from 1997 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2019, stepping down each time because of term limits.
Similarly, former 8th Ward Alderman Michael Charewicz is challenging incumbent Shamoon Ebrahimi in April. Charewicz's two terms ran from 2011 to 2019.
"The term limits in place are effectively a vacation," Goczkowski said.
Sixth Ward Alderman Malcom Chester philosophically dislikes term limits and said he'll likely oppose putting the question on the ballot. Arbitrary caps that force good and bad officials from office aren't the best way to determine how long politicians serve, he said.
"That's what we have elections for," said Chester, who is unable to run for reelection in April because he's in his second-straight term.
Term limits are rare in the Chicago area. Rolling Meadows has limited elected service since the 1990s; Naperville voters approved term limits in 2010.
Tuesday's meeting at village hall, 1420 Miner St., is open to the public. It also can be viewed live online at desplaines.org.