In a 2-to-1 decision, a Chicago appeals panel has ruled a
referendum aiming to limit the village president in suburban Broadview to two
terms is not confusing, as an objector has claimed, and so can be on Tuesday’s
ballot, allowing Broadview to be one of four Cook County communities in which
voters can limit the number of terms in office some elected officials can
The Nov. 1 holding was authored by Justice Robert Gordon, of
the Illinois First District Appellate Court, with concurrence from Justice
Jesse Reyes and partial dissent from Justice Bertina Lampkin. Broadview has a
population of about 8,000 and is 12 miles west of Chicago’s Loop.
This summer, Maxine Johnson collected petition signatures
from Broadview voters for a referendum, which proposed no person serve as
village president more than two terms. If the proposal passed, the term limit
would apply to the April 4, 2017 municipal election and subsequent elections.
A woman by the name of Maxine Johnson is listed as
Broadview’s village clerk.
The proposed measure read in part that “no person shall be
eligible to seek election to or hold the office of Village President where that
person has been previously elected to the office of Village President of the
Village of Broadview for two (2) consecutive full four (4) year terms.”
On Aug. 15, Matthew Ames filed an objection to the
referendum, saying it was not clear whether a candidate, who has already served
two terms, was prohibited from again serving after April 4, or if a person can
serve two terms after that date, but then no more from that point.
Ames also alleged Johnson’s petition was invalid, because
Johnson – a notary public – invalidated a number of signatures by notarizing
affidavits that supported those signatures. Ames cited state law forbidding
notaries from notarizing an “instrument” to which the notary is a party. The
loss of those signatures would lower the total number of signatures to below
the minimum requirement.
A man by the name of Matthew Ames is listed as Broadview’s
director of public works. If voters favor the referendum, current two-term
Village President Sherman Jones could be barred from again holding that office.
Ames has served as Jones’ campaign manager.
On Oct. 3 the Broadview Municipal Officers Electoral Board
ruled the notarizations were proper, because the instrument in question is the
petition and Johnson is not a party, as her name does not appear on that document.
However, the three-member board nonetheless threw out the
proposed referendum by a 2-to-1 margin, saying its wording was “vague and
ambiguous and cannot stand on its own terms.” Chairperson Judy Brown-Marino
dissented, saying she showed the referendum to constituents, who all understood
the proposal to mean anyone who has already twice served as village president
would be prohibited from serving in that office a third time after April 4.
“Any other conclusion was ridiculous and absurd,”
Johnson went to Cook County Circuit Court, where Circuit
Judge Paul Karkula reversed the board’s ruling Oct. 19, returning the
referendum to the ballot. Ames responded by going to appellate court, asking
that body to overrule Karkula, as well as the electoral board’s decision that
Johnson supplied enough valid signatures. Ames asked appellate justices to
expedite the matter, given the Nov. 8 election was looming.
The appellate court brushed aside Ames’ arguments, declaring
the referendum’s meaning was straightforward and affirmed the board’s ruling
that Johnson’s petition met the required minimum number of signatures.
In Justice Lampkin’s dissent regarding the referendum’s
language, she took issue with her colleagues, describing the referendum as
“uncertain” and “open to at least two interpretations.” She further said, in quoting a 2006 Illinois
Supreme Court decision, that the matter “involves a question of such importance
that it should be decided by the Supreme Court.”
The ballot measure would be one of four considered Tuesday
by some Cook County voters.
In the village of Crestwood, voters there will be asked to
decide if the mayor, village clerk and village trustees should be limited to
three terms in office.
In Calumet City, a ballot measure would limit the mayor to
four terms, including terms elected as either mayor or alderman.
And in the city of Harvey,
voters will have the opportunity to limit the city’s mayor, aldermen, city
clerk and city treasurer to four terms in office.