Council referendum to be on spring ballot
By Hank Beckman For The Sun January 29, 2013 4:16PM
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:46PM
Naperville voters will get a chance on the April ballot to vote once again on how they want City Council members to be elected.
By a unanimous vote, the Naperville Electoral Board Tuesday dismissed Paul Sjordal’s objection to Yes, at Large’s petition for a binding referendum question that says: “Shall the city of Naperville elect its councilmen at large instead of part of the councilmen at large and part from districts?”
In a 2010 referendum, Naperville residents voted two-to-one to go to a system with five City Council members elected from districts and three at-large. Currently all Council members are elected at-large.
The new district system is scheduled to be in place for the 2015 election.
After the decision was made Tuesday, Sjordal said he wasn’t surprised.
“The process was rigged from the get-go,” Sjordal said after the decision was reached. “They don’t want to listen to the law or the objector.”
Sjordal spoke passionately before the board as to why the petition should be thrown off the ballot. He said that although he wasn’t involved with the 2010 referendum, he did vote for it and was upset when it wasn’t implemented immediately.
“It could have been done in 2013,” he said.
Sjordal went on to say that the at-large system favors incumbents, although when questioned afterwards, he made no charge that a specific Council member or members were behind the Yes, at Large petition.
Sjordal’s attorney, Doug Ibendahl, said that the decision was expected and that he would appeal the decision to the DuPage Circuit Court, likely within the next five days.
Yes, at Large’s co-founder, Rebecca Obarski, said “I feel good (about the decision),” but also said she expected Sjordal’s appeal and was ready for it.
The Electoral Board Tuesday ruled that the question did conform with Illinois Municipal Code and was not unnecessarily vague, and overruled all legal objections to the petition question.
The 2010 referendum saw 28,236 Naperville voters approve of the move to the district system, as opposed to 14,593 against.
When an immediate move to the new system proved unworkable, a DuPage County judge ordered that the new system be out in place no later than the 2015 municipal elections.