The City Revisits Their Vote

The plan to choose council members by district is set for 2015 unless people change their minds.

The referendum that originally passed by a two to one margin has one local group asking residents to reconsider.

In 2010, residents voted to divide the city into five districts for the 2015 municipal election.

Naperville’s City Council members have always been selected by residents at large, and one local committee would like to keep it that way.

“Wards and at large systems have been studied and what they find is that ward systems are more costly, and taxes are higher,” said Dean Reschke, Co-Chair of “Yes, Elect City Council at Large.”

The group hopes to revisit the plan. Co-Chair of the committee, Rebecca Obarski, fears it’s not the right choice for Naperville. “The at large system with all of our council members representing Naperville has been successful. It has a proven track record, and it’s really the best thing for the whole city.”

A 2,000 signature petition is all that stands in the way of revisiting the matter, placing it back on the ballot for April’s 2013 election.

Reschke said, “There’s council that I think do a good job, I’d like to be able to vote for them. But I won’t be able to simply because they represent a different ward.”

“There were three issues on the ballot at that time, and I think most people thought, well, it’s a good idea, I’ll go with it,” commented Obarski.

Those in favor of district representation, like Ed Rivas, argue that residents had more than enough knowledge on the idea before they hit the polls.

“It’s hard to believe that the 19,000 people who voted in favor of it, didn’t know what they were voting for and only 10,000 who voted against it, did,” said Rivas, member of Naperville’s Voter Education League.

If the arrangement sticks, five city council members will be elected from the outlined districts while three will be chosen by the community at large. Including the mayor.

Rivas explains, “It means that you’ve got someone who’s more responsible for the issues that are relevant to your part of town, while you still have the balance of the at large, like the mayor being able to counter balance.

A map of the proposed districts has been unveiled with considerations of precinct boundaries, neighborhood subdivisions, and major roadways.

“By insuring districts, it means that there wont be one slanted area of town that has more representation in city council,” said Rivas.

In saying “yes, elect City Council at large,” Obarski said, “if I could just make the plea that people do sign the petition, they do give us the chance to get the question back out there again so that we can have healthy conversation that i don’t think we really had the first time.”

As residents voice their concerns, city staff is moving forward with their plans for the shift.
If Naperville follows through with the districts, it will remain non-partisan and will keep the same form of government as before.

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