Three Des Plaines aldermen move to disregard term-limit vote but come up short

  • Des Plaines aldermen, from left, Carla Brookman, Mark Lysakowski and Patsy Smith.

    Des Plaines aldermen, from left, Carla Brookman, Mark Lysakowski and Patsy Smith.

 
 
Updated 5/2/2023 3:36 PM

Three Des Plaines aldermen tried to disregard April election results Monday by refusing to enact voter-approved changes to the city's term limits for elected officials.

Their maneuver was unsuccessful, however, as five other aldermen voted to implement the changes.

 

Whether being called by city councils, school boards or other agencies, votes to enact voter-approved policies are formalities that typically sail through. But if a majority of Des Plaines aldermen hadn't voted to change the appropriate ordinance, litigation could've resulted, Mayor Andrew Goczkowski said Tuesday.

"The passage of the binding referendum made the will of the voters clear," Goczkowski said.

More than 64% of Des Plaines voters favored a proposal on the April 4 ballot that strengthened the rules for term limits. It passed 2,857 votes to 1,590 votes.

From now on, the mayor, the city's eight aldermen and the city clerk are limited to two terms in each of those positions.

Those officials had been restricted to two consecutive 4-year terms, which allowed someone to run for additional terms after breaks in service. Those term limits had been on the books since 1998.

Even though the proposal received overwhelming support from voters, aldermen Mark Lysakowski of the 1st Ward, Carla Brookman of the 5th Ward and Patsy Smith of the 7th Ward tried to stop its implementation Monday by opposing the required amendment to the city's term limits ordinance.

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Although none of the three explained their votes during Monday's meeting, Brookman previously had said she'd oppose the change.

During an April 17 discussion, Brookman said she felt the wording of the April 4 question was confusing and alleged voters "didn't really clearly understand what they were voting on."

She also said it was the wrong time to put such a question on the ballot because turnout was low. Fewer than 12% of registered voters in Des Plaines had their say on the question, Cook County election results show.

Brookman noted three of the four aldermen who were elected April 4 -- Dick Sayad in the 4th Ward, Mark Walsten in the 6th Ward and Michael Charewicz in the 8th Ward -- were former council members who would have been prevented from serving under the new rules.

A critic of term limits, Lysakowski questioned the validity of the results because of the relatively low turnout.

"I just was not supportive of how it was passed," he said Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In a separate interview, Smith said she voted against enacting the changes because she had concerns about the wording of the ballot question. People who voted for the changes may have misunderstood what they supported, she said.

Monday's vote occurred before Sayad, Walsten and Charewicz were sworn in.

The five aldermen who supported implementing the term limits changes were the 2nd Ward's Colt Moylan, the 3rd Ward's Sean Oskerka, the 4th Ward's Artur Zadrozny, the 6th Ward's Malcolm Chester and the 8th Ward's Shamoon Ebrahimi.

April's referendum was the second to address term limits in Des Plaines in the last six months.

In November, voters rejected a proposal to remove term limits for aldermen and the clerk.

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