ORLAND PARK, IL — Voters in Orland Park are projected to approve a referendum to implement term limits on how long an elected official in the village can serve.
According to the Cook County Clerk’s Office, all 50 precincts in Orland have been counted. A majority of the votes show term limits are more than likely to pass.
Currently, the Village of Orland Park has no term limits for elected officials. The referendum on the ballot asked voters if the terms of office for the village president, village trustees and the village clerk should be limited to three, full four-year terms in the same office.
The question was written as presented below:
Shall the terms of office for those persons elected to the offices of Village President, Village Trustee and Village Clerk in the Village of Orland Park at the April 6, 2021 Consolidated Election and at each election for any of such offices thereafter, be limited such that no person so elected may serve more than three (3) full four (4) year terms in the same office?
A deluge of mail-in votes cast this election amid the coronavirus pandemic — many of which will not be counted tonight — makes this election unlike any in the past. Officials have two weeks post-election to count all provisional votes.
As of 12:04 a.m with 50 of 5o precincts in, more than 88 percent of Orland voters had voted in favor of term limits. A total of 22,805 votes have been cast on the referendum.
- Yes: 88.46%
- No: 11.54%
The motion to place the referendum on the November 2020 ballot carried four to three at the Nov. 19, 2018, Board of Trustees meeting. With the Nov. 3 general election just weeks away, board members have different thoughts on the possibility of term limits.
Mayor Keith Pekau is in favor of the referendum, stating the village is in need of fresh blood.
“I ran on getting term limits put in place,” Pekau said. “I think it’s good to get new people in any organization and I think a lot of our laws are designed to help incumbents.”
Pekau said he believes incumbents stay in office longer than they should and no longer view serving in their role as a privilege.
“They stay forever … well past having good ideas,” Pekau said. “Instead of it being a privilege to serve, they think it’s their right to. I think there’s plenty of good people in Orland Park and in Illinois to step in and serve [in any office].”
Trustees Daniel Calandriello and Cynthia Nelson Katsenes both say term limits are a good thing to implement in the village, with Katsenes saying new people will bring new ideas and help others think outside the box.
“I am in favor of term limits being put in place at all levels, including local, state and federal,” Katsenes said. “I think when you have new people, they have new and fresh ideas. Some Illinois politicians have gotten way too comfortable in their position, and you really have to question if they are serving their constituents.”
Calandriello said he thinks the referendum is a great question to have on the ballot.
“I think it’s great to get fresh blood, I myself am somewhat new to the board, so I think it’s good to circulate a bit,” Calandriello said. “I think it’s great and I support it. We will see what the voters have to say about it.”
Not all board members have the same opinion. Trustee James Dodge said the referendum is a political stunt, stating that, by definition, every term is limited to four years.
“When the people did not want Dan McLaughlin anymore, they voted him out of office. The system works and this would only impact Orland,” Dodge said. “One of the biggest arguments against term limits is that it does nothing to stop the bureaucrats from accumulating power. Just look at D.C. and Springfield. You can’t fire bureaucrats like you can elected officials every few years, and bureaucrats know it. But for having a lot of institutional knowledge in the elected officials, who else pushes the system to defend the voters interests? Again, it’s a stunt.”
Dodge said positions of elected officials have always been in the hands of the voters. The trustee also stated that Pekau was elected at a time when voters wanted a changed from McLaughlin.
“I’ve always respected the voter’s choice. The voters have always had the power, terms always end,” Dodge said. “Term limits, without limiting how powerful a bureaucracy can become or addressing how poorly that bureaucracy delivers, accomplishes nothing.”
Voters who took to the polls to cast their ballots had different opinions on term limits in the village.
“I think term limits are needed… our previous Mayor was in office too long and stopped making the hard decisions and let the trustees govern without much accountability,” one resident said. “I think three terms are too long. Maybe one longer term instead (6 years)? One needs to look at all the potential loopholes and make sure they are addressed.”
Other residents said term limits are not necessary.
“Term limits are for rich people only. Hardworking individuals won’t run. No job security. Don’t care if your republican or Democrat don’t vote for term limits, trust me on this. This will suppress the hardworking Americans,” a resident said. “I don’t want millionaires and billionaires as politicians. I want middle class people as politicians…”
Read the original article, by Yasmeen Shelkah, here.