Decision on Council referendum appealed
By Hank Beckman For The Sun March 2, 2013 1:56PM
Updated: April 4, 2013 6:54AM
Paul Sjordal appealed the decision of DuPage Judge Bonnie Wheaton upholding the ruling of the Naperville Electoral Board allowing a binding referendum question on the spring ballot concerning the makeup of the City Council.
With the April 9 election only weeks away, Sjordal’s attorney, Doug Ibendahl, filed a motion for an expedited appeal from the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, and was granted accelerated status for a decision.
“My brief will lay out all the reasons why the Electoral Board got it wrong,” Ibendahl said.
The Electoral Board rejected Sjordal’s objection to the petition for the referendum, but Ibendahl argues that the referendum question violates the Illinois Municipal Code and the Illinois Election Code.
Moreover, because of language in the heading of the petition, Ibendhal also maintains that the petition circulated effectively asked signers to approve either a binding question or a non-binding one, depending on the number of signatures attained.
The Appellate Court set deadlines of March 9 for Ibendahl’s brief; March 19 for a reply from Yes, at Large, the citizens group that is behind the referendum question; and March 24 for any response from Ibendahl.
Naperville voters in a 2010 referendum approved the move to a new system of electing City Council members by a two-to-one margin. Currently all eight Council members are elected at large. Beginning in 2015, though, five Council members will be elected from districts, with three elected at large.
Yes, at Large pushed to have the matter put forward to the voters again this spring, and its petition to get a referendum on the ballot was approved by the Naperville Electoral Board following a hearing. Recently, Judge Wheaton also ruled that the referendum was legal and should be on the ballot, leading to Sjordal’s appeal.
Contacted by email for comment, city officials expressed no surprise at the appeal.
“I believe the Appellate Court will uphold Judge Wheaton’s decision,” read the answer from Senior Assistant City Attorney Kristen Foley. “She has extensive knowledge of election cases and handles multiple such cases every election season. Her decision was thorough, supported by law, and with an emphasis toward supporting a democratic electoral process.”