Thoughts from District 3 Republican candidate Michael Walkup, an attornehy,for the McHenry County Board:
“The recent debate at the County Board over the possible election of the County Chair at large has raised an interesting question about term limits.
“The position of the McHenry County State Attorney was that term limits cannot be imposed on any office in the State if IL regardless of whether or not that unit of government is Home Rule.
“You also cannot do a statewide referendum for a constitutional amendment that would be binding as the only constitutional referenda allowed have to pertain to the state legislature and have to be limited to changing the ‘form and structure’ of the General Assembly.
“This was done by now Gov. Pat Quinn in the 1980′s when he circulated a referendum to remove the three member State Representative districts and replace them with the current single member districts, thus lowering the size of the House of Representatives.
“Placing term limits on the GA would not change the ‘form and structure’ of that body.
“Otherwise the only clear way to get term limits at any level of government in Illinois is to have the General Assembly place a constitutional amendment on the ballot (don’t hold your breath), or otherwise have a Constitutional Convention.
“This is why several County Board members decided not to place the direct election of the County Chair on the ballot. Without term limits it can become a dynastic position al la ‘Stroger County.’
“There is language in the state constitution that local governments, whether or not Home Rule, can set the ‘terms of office’ of their officers. Possibly that could include limits on the ‘terms of office’ but I was unable to find any case law on that. Therefore someone would have to do it and it would have to be challenged. A challenge might not be a politically popular thing to do so it may be possible to try it and see.
“Tinley Park voters are nevertheless going to have an advisory question on their ballot in November on term limits for their city council and mayor. If it passes the proponents will then try to use it to put pressure on that body to enact term limits. The council could just respond that they don’t have the authority to do that, which would put them in a bit of a spot with the voters. They might try to enact it anyway and see what happens. Could be interesting to watch.
“Meanwhile, some members of the County Board are looking into imposing term limits on the County Chair where that Chair is selected by the Board as currently. I would think they could do this as it just involves internal rules. This could benefit efforts to defeat the Franks referendum by at least showing that the Board gets the message and is trying to do something.
“Is the McHenry County Board ready for Reform?”