Three Niles residents who gathered 1,018 voters' signatures in support of term limits submitted them to Niles Village Clerk Marlene Victorine Friday.
If their ballot initiative makes it onto the November ballot and passes, it could bar Mayor Robert Callero and Trustees Louella Preston and Andrew Przybylo from running in next spring's election. The ballot would limit service in village government to 16 years, and all of them have served at least that much.
Joe Makula, a Niles resident who led the effort to circulate the petitions, said he isn't aiming it against anyone in particular, but rather because he believes term limits help foster good government.
"Term limits allow for more participation and new ideas to come forth," he said.
Makula, his wife Mary Makula and Mary Marusek, who ran unseccessfully for village trustee in 2011, circulated the petitions at the Fourth of July parade and other public events in July. Resident Rob Kurfirst and the Citizen Advocacy Center also helped the effort, Joe Makula said.
Partly a reaction to Blase's actions
"Given the history of Niles, there were problems with people serving for decades," Marusek said. "There were problems with (who served federal prison time for fraud), and there are things that are still coming out from that period in time.
"It's more an issue of citizens having a right to be part in the discussion."
Mary Makula agreed.
"I believe too much power corrupts," she said.
Trustees could serve no more than 16 years
The organizers asked Niles residents to sign a petition to place on the ballot the following referendum question: "Shall the Village of Niles prohibit anyone from serving more than 16 years on the Village of Niles Board of Trustees, including any service as president of the village board (mayor)?'
1,018 people signed, and Mary Makula and Mary Marusek each said they only encountered two people who declined to sign.
County clerk would put it on the ballot
According to a press release from Makula and Maryam Judar, a community lawyer at the Citizen Advocacy Center, the village of Niles is required to certify the petition and forward it to the Cook County Clerk, for placement on the November ballot.
In the last election cycle, it said, the Niles Election Board, headed by then-Mayor Blase, refused to certify a voter petition for a referendum on off-track betting. Citizens sued in Circuit Court, and a judge ordered the Niles Election Board to certify the ballot initiative and forward it to the county clerk.