Lawsuit challenges measure to cut Country Club Hills city council
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org November 28, 2012 4:16PM
Updated: December 30, 2012 3:31PM
The ballot measure recently approved by Country Club Hills voters that would cut the number of city council members in half is being challenged in court.
Several aldermen and two residents filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the referendum because the wording of the question on the ballot differed from the question on petitions that had to be signed in order for the question to be put on the ballot.
The ballot question made no reference to a timetable for cutting the number of aldermen from 10 to five. The petition question specified the city council would shrink effective with the next regular aldermanic election, which is in April.
Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, an election attorney with the law firm Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni and Krafthefer, filed the lawsuit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court at the Daley Center. She is representing city residents Chester Miller and Oscar McNeal, and all of the aldermen except Thomas Comein (3rd), a staunch supporter of Mayor Dwight Welch and the treasurer of Welch’s political committee.
Miller voted for the ballot measure but claimed he would have voted against it if he knew half the aldermen would be removed from office halfway through their four-year terms, according to the lawsuit. McNeal claimed he wouldn’t have signed the petition if he knew half of its language would be missing from the ballot.
The move to cut the city council in half was popular, with 58 percent of the voters in favor of consolidating it from two aldermen to one for each of the city’s five wards.
Cutting the city council could save taxpayers in the city of about 16,000 as much as $258,000 in aldermanic salaries, expense accounts, uniforms and more. Because all terms would expire in April, it also could allow Welch to run a slate of candidates to try to regain control of the city council, which he lost after the last election.
In addition to seeking to invalidate the referendum results, the lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing Cook County Clerk David Orr from certifying the results, and an injunction preventing Country Club Hills City Clerk Debbie McIlvain from declaring that all of the aldermanic seats are up for election in April.