Could Someone Win Township Supervisor by Promising to Abolish It?

What would happen if a candidate ran for township office pledging to abolish the government for which he or she seeks office?

Mike Walkup

Attorney and future McHenry County Board member Mike Walkup considered the question and came up with the following:

Can this be done?

Many people are under the impression that townships can no longer be abolished one at a time.

This is due to legislation that was passed amending the Township Code when former McHenry County State Representative Ann Hughes chaired a special committee that had been formed following the unsuccessful attempt by Bob Anderson to abolish all of the townships in McHenry County in 1994. I will refer to this as the “Hughes Act.”

The issue at the time was that in a county like McHenry, where some townships have much larger populations than others and are also mostly incorporated into municipalities, a referendum to abolish all townships in the county could be carried by those more populous townships where the residents didn’t feel that they needed township services, notwithstanding the desires of the more rural township residents to retain that form of government.

I represented Bob Anderson at the time and helped him get the question on the ballot. It scared the heck out of the townships at the time.

The Hughes Act is as follows:


(60 ILCS 1/25-5)

“Sec. 25-5 Petition and referendum to discontinue township organization. Upon the petition of at least 10% of the registered voters of each township of a county, as determined by the date registration closed before the regular election next preceding the last day on which the petition may be filed, that has adopted township organization, the county board shall certify and cause to be submitted to the voters of the county, at the next general election, the question of continuance of township organization. ” {a lot of stuff next about how the signatures all have to be collected 90 days before the last day for filing the petition and how to establish that on each petition sheet}.

“Sec. 25-10. Cessation of township organization. If it appears by the returns of the election that a majority of the votes in at least three-fourths of the townships, containing at least of majority of the population in the county, cast on the question of the continuance of township organization are against the continuance of township organization, then township organization shall cease in the county as soon as a county board is elected and qualified.”

This referendum can only be presented at a general election at which members of the General Assembly are elected, so it cannot be done in connection with a Consolidated Election, which is the one next year.

The entire County Board is then replaced by 3 County Commissioners!!

Many legal experts have been advising township boards that this is now the only way to abolish townships.

This is incorrect.

The power to abolish townships by referendum created by citizen petition is derived from the 1970 Illinois Constitution. Section 5 of Article VII thereof states as follows:


The General Assembly shall provide by law for the formation of townships in any county when approved by county-wide referendum. Townships may be consolidated or merged, and one or more townships may be dissolved or divided, when approved by a referendum in each township affected. All townships in a county may be dissolved when approved by a referendum in the total area in which township officers are elected.” (emphasis supplied).

The State Constitution supersedes any legislative enactments which are inconsistent with it.

Bob Anderson formed a group known as “S.T.O.P.”, (Send Township Officials Packing), which I also represented, and which challenged the Hughes Act in DuPage County on the grounds that the second paragraph, which required a super majority, violated the “one person one vote” rule.

We lost at the county level and decided not to appeal.

Bob subsequently filed to abolish McHenry Township separately.

He did not have enough valid signatures and tried a second time.

This time McHenry Township Supervisor Donna Schaefer decided not to file an objection and it made it to the ballot, where it lost.

No further attempts have been made.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that you can get a binding referendum on the ballot to abolish an individual township, notwithstanding the Hughes Act provisions, which I believe apply only where someone is attempting to abolish all of the townships in a county at one time.

How many signatures would then be required and at what elections could it be presented?

The Hughes Act requires ten percent of the registered voters. However, it does not address the requirements for single township abolition.

I believe these would therefore be determined by the Election Code.

This would fall under Section 28, Submitting Public Questions.

It provides as follows:

“The method of initiating the submission of a public question shall be as provided by the statute authorizing such public question, or as provided by the Constitution. …..

If such statute does not specify any of the foregoing petition requirements, the corresponding petition requirements of Section 28-6 shall govern such petition.

“Sec. 28-6. Petitions; filing.

“(a) On a written petition signed by a number of voters equal to at least 8% of the total votes cast for candidates for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election by the registered voters of the municipality, township, county or school district, it shall be the duty of the proper election officers to submit any question of public policy so petitioned for, to the electors of such political subdivision at any regular election named in the petition at which an election is scheduled to be held throughout such political subdivision under Article 2A.”

Therefore, I believe that only 8% of those who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election (combining vote totals for all Governor candidates) within the township is needed and that it can be placed on the ballot at any upcoming election, including either the Consolidated Election in April or any primary election prior thereto.

There you have it.

The rest, if anything, is up to you.

The deadline for filing for the general consolidated election is December 24th. I believe for a primary there is an earlier date.

= = = = =
Those wishing to file for township office must do so from November 19-26.

Happy Thanksging.


Could Someone Win Township Supervisor by Promising to Abolish It? — 17 Comments

  1. Sam Yingling has been the Avon Township supervisor up in Lake County, and the entire time he has been working to abolish township government.

  2. As stated before, it appears this guy needs something to occupy his counter-productive mind.

    Again, my sympathy goes out the to elected members of the McHenry County Board.

    BTW the deadline he mentions applies ONLY to the candidates who will be participating in the primary.

    From the State Election Commission: December 17-24, 2012

    Filing period for candidates seeking election at the Consolidated Election, April 9,
    2013. [10 ILCS 5/10-6(2)]
    (Petitions may NOT be circulated prior to September 25, 2012.) [10ILCS 5/10-4]
    In MUNICIPALITIES under 5,000 population, established political parties hold their
    caucuses on December 3, 2012, and file their certificates of nomination with the
    municipal clerk during the filing period, December 17-24, 2012 . [10 ILCS 5/10-1(a)]
    Note: Municipalities of 5,000 or less may determine by ordinance (no later than
    November 15, 2012) that established political parties shall nominate
    candidates for municipal offices by primary election.
    [10 ILCS 5/7-1 (b)]

  3. and Sam Yingling just got elected to the State Legislator.

    Want to bet what his agenda is going to be?

    Township Government has outlived its purpose in populated areas.

    18 of them in Lake County alone taking over 60 million dollars in property tax dollars to do exactly what?

  4. I have not researched the deadlines that would be involved to try and get anything on the ballot for the primary.

    However, it could still be done for the general Consolidated for 2013, or someone who is elected then could mount a petition drive for any election in 2014. This could thus be a campaign theme.

    Sorry for all the “knowledge”, “Knowledge Voter”.

    A whole separate piece could be done for what it is exactly that townships do, but that may be overwhelming for some.

    Life doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.

    Yes, and I do plan on shaking up the County Board. That’s why I was elected.

  5. LCTruth I couldn’t agree more.

    Algonquin Township insisted on raising their salaries, with one lone vote against the raises.

    How many people reading these blogs know what the Township officers make? and how many hours they put in for these huge paychecks? E.G. Bob Miller, Road Commissioner? don’t take my word for it; FOIA the township for all salaries, bonuses, benefits, etc. for Robt. Miller, Anna May Miller, wife/secretary; Derek Lee, son-in-law, and another Road District employee with last name of Rosencranz, another son-in-law. Might also want to FOIA

    Lake County Road Commissioner for another Miller.

    We’re not done yet; with a little digging, you may find another Miller receiving $ and/or consideration from the township coffers.

    If you want to ask these questions directly from township road workers, you could first try an early morning visit to McDonalds, or other eatery.

    You’ll know they’re there when you see those very shiny, new, expensive yellow trucks parked in the parking lot.

  6. So the Democrats, not content with running Illinois into the ground through their state-level domination, now want to eliminate local control in our communities.

    Is it a coincidence that they want to eliminate townships and the township GOP organizations (which form the backbone of the Republican party in IL), yet NEVER touch the labor unions (which form the backbone of the Democratic Party in IL)..? Hmmm…

  7. Robert: It is ironic that the Republican Party, which claims to be the party of “smaller, more efficient government” is the one that most wants outdated and inefficient township government to be continued so it can continue to be their “backbone.”

    This is not about parties, it is about good government.

    Are you for smaller government or not?

  8. Michael J. Walkup ran as a Republican?

    Township IS smaller government.

    Just because you have a lot of units does not make it inefficient or large.

    If you are liberal and your goal is wealth distribution, you want to eliminate townships because they tend to dole out General Assistance to those who actually need it.

    Large CENTRALIZED distribution points such as County Housing and State agency Aid don’t really care who gets it.

    The more they distribute – the more power / staff they have.

    Let’s turn over township roads to the Counties and cities to ensure every road employee is a member of union.

    Great logic Michael!

    This will really ensure we get lower tax bills!!

  9. Thanks for the idea. When is the filing period for township elections?

    This would be a great platform!

    The vote on the question of people holding two or more elected offices simultaneously was this:
    YES 12240 9.75%
    NO 113341 90.25%

    I’ll bet the percentages would be about the same on a vote to retain township government.

  10. To knowledge voter;

    The supervisor administers (doles out) general assistance.

    At one time, the supervisor’s salary exceeded the amount that is administered.

    does that make sense? is that cost effective?

    Also, does it make sense for us to pay for 3 buses, a bus driver, insurance, maintenance, gas, and other associated costs so the Township Senior bus can take one person grocery shopping and doing other errands?

    Special arrangements can be made with Pace for people living in the unincorporated areas; Senior Services will drive someone to do their shopping, banking, medical trips. Duplication adds to our tax bill, doesn’t it?

    when we say “smaller government” we mean LESS government.

    the issue is not Republican or Democrat; it’s the millions of our dollars the Townships consume trying to think up ways to look busy.

    We’ll never miss them when they’re eliminated.

  11. Mike: why don’t you just admit that you don’t like local control, you want to expand State and County big government, and you don’t like non-union government entities such as townships?

    And could you please clarify that you ran for office not as a Republican but as a RINO (Republican In Name Only)..?

  12. Townships are a crucial part of our government where people can have a direct say in their area!

    If you don’t know how a township works, there is an article and video on my blog about it.

    I suggest you visit and maybe even run!

  13. In response to Melissa, here is a link to her video:

    I attended her session back on July 9th, and it was very informative.

    Primary petition filing for the six closest townships where Republicans will nominate their slate via a primary election begins on Monday, November 19th at the township clerk’s office.

    Algonquin, Grafton, McHenry, Nunda, Dorr townships in McHenry County and Dundee Township in Kane County will nominate their Republican slate via primary.

    Now is the time to learn about township government.

  14. Melissa- A direct say about what?


    What exactly is it you think you can influence?

  15. Townships served a purpose once upon a time.

    Eventually they became places to pay people to not only do the tasks but also to act as political helpers.

    That included hiring family members, friends, etc. in never ending positions.

    That likely included a limited preferred circle of business people getting contracts.

    Now we have new people who have moved in to the various locations and some of them would like to include new ideas, new businesses, new jobs, and, of course new friends and family on the payroll.

    It’s also not the 1800s anymore.

    Technology and efficiency are calling.

    Enough with Townships and Township employees already.

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