Judge won’t overturn Country Club Hills referendum results; appeal likely
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org December 7, 2012 5:46PM
Country Club Hills Ald. Steven Burris (4th) in June 2011. | File photo
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:33AM
A Cook County Circuit Court judge Friday said she would not overturn results of a ballot measure in Country Club Hills that will cut in half the size of the city council.
Some aldermen had hoped the referendum question could be overturned because it did not include a second sentence advising voters that, if the proposal was approved, each alderman would have to seek re-election next year, even those who were elected in 2011, city attorney John Murphey said Friday.
The city clerk did not include that second sentence in the referendum question because it was not needed, Murphey said.
“State law provides that if a referendum cutting the number (of aldermen) in half is successful, all (the offices) are open at the next election. It means if you were elected in 2011 for a four-year term, the term is cut short and you have to again run for office,” Murphey said.
“The people who filed the referendum wanted to add that language, but it wasn’t that way on the ballot because state law didn’t allow for that,” he said.
There was ample time to address the issue before Election Day, he said.
“Everybody knew what the ballot looked like in October because it was on the Internet. Everybody knew what the question was. The incumbent aldermen were opposed to the referendum because they didn’t want to lose their jobs or stand for re-election,” he said.
Fifty-eight percent of the city’s voters backed the idea of consolidating the council from two aldermen in each of the five wards to one per ward.
The ruling by Judge Maureen Ward Kirby will be appealed, said Ald. Tyrone Hutson (3rd), whose term is cut in half.
“Oh, you always appeal,” Hutson said.
“I was elected in 2011 to serve the people for four years. I’ve never known anywhere in the United States or in the Third World that you can take a vote back,” Hutson said.
The results in November’s election were seen as a victory for Mayor Dwight Welch because he’d have a chance to run a slate of candidates against incumbents and possibly regain control of the city council he lost in the April 2011 election.
Hutson called Welch “a politician who has a hidden agenda.”
Ald. Vincent Lockett (2nd), an outspoken Welch opponent, said, “I was up for re-election anyway in April.”
So is Ald. Steven Burris (4th). “If that’s what the judge ruled, we have to follow the law,” Burris said. “It is unfortunate that some aldermen will lose two years in office. I don’t think that’s right.”