A referendum petition on term limits for Arlington Heights elected village officials was rejected Monday morning by the village election board.
The decision came down after testimony was provided by the petition objector, Thomas Krausmann, and Bill Gnech who filed the petition signed by more than 2,700 Arlington Heights voters.
The election board, comprised of Mayor Arlene Mulder, Village Trustee Thomas Hayes and Village Clerk Becky Hume, heard testimony from both men, before the vote was taken.
In his objection, Krausmann cited three issues with the referendum petition, which included that it was not stated in the form of a question, that a definitive description of who the term limits explicity applied to was not provided and a date was not included as far as when term limits would be made effective, or if they would be retroactive.
"This is a very important question for our village, I have no problem with it going to the people," said Hayes. "What needs to happen is that the question needs to be very clear as to what individuals are voting on."
Village Attorney Jack Siegel said another issue was that the petition stated it would be a binding referendum, but subsequent communications from Gnech's lawyer indiciated he was requesting an advisory referendum.
"It has to be a binding referendum if it deals with the mayor and the village board, Illinois Election Code requires that of home-rule municipalities such as Arlington Heights," Siegel said.
More than 25 people attended the hearing in the village board room Monday morning.
Two residents, both in support of the petition, spoke on Gnech's behalf.
"I signed the petition, I understood it fully. People should have the chance to vote on this, you can shut it down on a technicality, but it is something residents should be able to vote on," said Jim Elgas, Arlington Heights resident.
"I observed Mr. Gnech getting these petitions signed, I did not see anyone have a question about what was being asked of them," said Arthur Ellingsen, Arlington Heights resident.
Ellingsen did object, however, to Hayes sitting on the election board, due to the matter being a potential conflict of interest for him.
Hayes has served on the village board as a trustee for 22 years, and the referendum question asked that there be a limit of two terms, or eights years in office.
"I was concerned about my conflict of interest due to my candidacy for mayor, and inquired about recusing myself," Hayes said. "I was told and advised that anyone on the village board would have a conflict, all board members would be affected either now or down the road."
Gnech said though he was disappointed with the decision, he plans to work to get another referendum on the ballot for term limits on the ballot for the 2014 governor's race.
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