About 50 residents came to the Naperville Municipal Center to learn more about the pros and cons of districts versus at large.
The Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation wants to make sure voters are informed if Judge Bonnie Wheaton rules to allow the referendum question “Shall the city of Naperville elect city council at large instead of part of the councilmen at large and part of the councilmen from districts?” on the April 9th ballot.
“Tonight’s discussion is limited to the pros and cons of the alternative forms of city council election,” said Bob Fischer, Vice President of the NAHC. “Tonight’s discussion, including questions from the audience, will not include any discussion about the objection, the lawsuit or any issues involved in that meeting.”
At a recent forum, voters got a chance to hear from Dean Reschke, co-chairman of Yes at Large, a group of citizens who want to keep the current way we vote for city councilmen.
“Our group supports giving all citizens an equal chance to run for city council, and giving all voters a chance to vote for or against any city council candidate,” he said.
They also heard from Ed Rivas, a spokesperson for the Naperville Voter Education League, an organization that organized the 2010 referendum to switch to districts.
If this was a scenario where the vote was close, a couple thousand apart, I could understand the justification of wanting to put a referendum on the 2013 ballot to reverse it. But this wasn’t close,” said Rivas.
The discussion stemmed from the 2010 referendum, in which 66% of voters approved switching to a hybrid system effective in 2015, electing five councilmen from districts, three at large, plus the mayor. But Yes at Large is trying to allow residents to revote on the issue.
Audience members were able to submit questions for both panelists to answer.
One question was “Please comment on what you feel voters thought was wrong in 2010 with the current system that it needed to be changed?”
“It’s a natural progression for cities that increase with size,” said Rivas. “Some people feel disenfranchised. Some people don’t feel like their voice is being heard.”
“It still feels like it is a solution in search of a problem here in Naperville,” said Reschke. “By and large the system has worked really well here, so I’m still searching for a solid ‘what’s wrong’ or ‘what do we need to fix’ or change something so fundamental as how we govern ourselves here.”
If residents vote to proceed with districts, all eight seats will be up for re-election in 2015, with the three at large candidates running for two-year terms and the five running in districts for four years. If not, all eight seats will still be up and the four candidates with the most votes will serve for four years and the bottom four for two.
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