Oak Lawn’s longest serving trustee exchanged sharp words with the mayor before a vote on placing a term limits referendum on the March 18, 2014 ballot.
The binding referendum will let Oak Lawn voters decide whether to limit the consecutive number of terms that a person can serve in any elected office with the village to three terms.
If passed, the clock would start clicking with the April 2015 election, and is applicable only prospectively, to persons elected to the offices of village president, clerk and trustee, and at each election held thereafter.
Current trustees, such as Bob Streit (Dist 3), now in his fifth term in office, and Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) and Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5), both with multiple terms under their belts, would all be eligible to serve three more consecutive terms as village trustee after April 2015.
In addition, an elected village official that has maxed out his or her term limits in a specific office, could run for and serve in another elected village office for three consecutive terms.
Before the vote was taken, Streit argued that there are already term limits in place, when voters decide whether to retain an elected official every four years.
“This is one of those questions that before you put it on the ballot, everybody knows the answer to it,” Streit said, a village trustee since 1991. “When the voters are asked if they want term limits, they do. It’s the lack of confidence they have in elected officials, especially in Washington and Springfield.”
Streit suggested that if the village board was really serious about getting the public’s input, they should be asking questions about “significant issues of public policy.”
“We just made all kinds of important decisions tonight, some that would greatly affect many people,” he began. “I think one question might be should we outsource our emergency telecommunicators.”
Mayor Sandra Bury warned Streit to stay on topic.
“Please keep your comments to the item under discussion,” she said.
“This is the item. I am speaking to the item under discussion,” Streit said. “Please don’t interrupt me, mayor.”
“I’m controlling the meeting,” Bury said.
“Of course you are, “ Streit responded.
Streit continued to suggest more ideas for referendums (or is referenda), such as whether the village should hire more police officers, inducing the mayor to slam down the gavel.
“I’m sorry, I’m going to continue,” Streit said.”You are out of order, mayor.”
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Trustees voted 4-2 to place the term limits question on the March 2014 ballot.
Quinlan said that originally she was going to support the resolution. She changed her mind when her motion to remove two paragraphs referring to “promoting diversity in office holders” and “urgency in forming and implementing policies” died on the table.
Other board notes: The village board also passed the 2014 budget by a vote of 4-2, with Streit and Quinlan in the minority.
The budget reduces the village’s cut of the tax levy to 12 percent, without raising residents’ property taxes.