Citizens Sue To Get Term Limits On Ballot
After 1,018 citizens signed a petition to limit Niles officials to 16 years in office, the village did not certify the petition. The citizens have filed a lawsuit, to be heard Tuesday.
The possibility of term limits for Niles elected officials is not yet dead.
There is still a chance that a referendum that would ask voters if they want term limits could make it onto the November ballot.
A group of Niles citizens, including Joseph Makula, have filed a lawsuit in reaction to the Village of Niles' refusal to certify the referendum petition. They have retained Chicago attorney Adam Lasker.
"I've spent a lot of time on this and I'm not going to be deterred," said Makula, whose group spent three months gathering 1,018 Niles voters' signatures.
A judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter Tuesday, Aug. 28, and the trial must be held within three days of the hearing date, Makula said.
Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr's office, said that from the clerk's position, the referendum could still get on the ballot.
"Yes, there's still a small window of time," she said. "If a court directed us to put it on the ballot, we could accommodate it for a few more weeks."
The procedure for getting a referendum passed involves having the village clerk certify it and pass it to the Niles Election Commission, on which Mayor Robert Callero sits, which then would forward it to the Cook County Clerk's office.
When asked whether the Niles Election Commission ever met, Callero said, "For them to meet, it would have to be certified by the clerk," and declined to comment further, saying the issue was now a legal matter.
Makula said the reasons Niles Village Clerk Marlene Victorine gave for refusing to certify the petition were groundless.
He is personally advancing the money to pay the attorney, though he said voter organizations from as far away as Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia have taken an interest in it and may contribute financially.
"It's unique in that it's voter-initiated, so it caught their eye," he said.
Meanwhile, the village of Niles is using taxpayers' dollars to fight against the lawsuit, he pointed out.
"It's a slap in the face to every person that signed it," he said. "They're saying, we don't want you to participate, mind your own business. It's against the spirit of this community."
He added that while talking to voters for three months, he heard them voice complaints.
"The voters are dissatisfied with a lot of things," he said. "There's a lot of built-up frustration and anger with the old Niles."