A small turnout of civically engaged voters passed a binding referendum imposing term limits for Oak Lawn Village Board members in Tuesday's primary.
Of Oak Lawn’s 35,770 registered voters, 5,777 of them cast votes limiting the number of consecutive terms that elected officials can serve in any one particular village board office to three.
Unofficial vote tallies available on the Cook County Clerk’s website Tuesday night, showed 4,691 voters in favor of the measure, and 804 opposed, or 86 percent to 16 percent..
The binding referendum takes effect starting with the April 7, 2015 election, when three village trustee seats are up for renewal in Districts 1, 3 and 5. The term limits referendum applies to the village president, clerk and trustee offices.
The term limits referendum was spearheaded by Tr. Mike Carberry in the sixth district, who was elected into office last April.
Mayor Sandra Bury said that Oak Lawn voters spoke in a loud and unified voice.
“I think Oak Lawn residents would not like to see career politicians as elected officials on the municipal level. I hope it resonates further,” the mayor said. "Four trustees supported putting the referendum on the ballot; the ones who didn't, it's important to note that one is a career politician. I think this sends a message."
Election officials were shooting for 25-percent voter turnout in suburban Cook County. In Chicago, preliminary voter turnout in the primary was a dismal 15 percent, the Chicago Tribune reported.
About 16 percent of Oak Lawn’s registered voters cast votes for the term limit referendum. Bury said she’d wish more residents would turn out to vote in local elections.
“This is why need term limits because of voter apathy,” Bury said. “You can’t always get the change you need from voters. If there aren’t a lot of people engaged in the process, this ensures that the process would continue in a fresh way. Someone newly elected will view it as, ‘I’m not here forever,’ and get down to work.”
Patch will provide a precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the village-wide referendum vote when numbers become available from the Cook County Clerk’s Office.