Niles considering term limits for elected officials
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:43PM
NILES — Niles trustees could vote in November on whether to ask voters if elected officials should be subject to term limits.
A petition from resident Joe Makula signed by more than 1,000 residents who wanted to see a term limit referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot was rejected in court, but Makula is now aiming to get the question on the April 2013 ballot.
The village board is expected to vote at its November meeting on whether to place it on the April ballot.
During a discussion Oct. 23 most trustees agreed that a limit of three terms — four years for each term — would make sense for a village trustee and some supported two terms for the mayor.
“I think people should have the opportunity to voice their opinion,” said Trustee Rosemary Palicki.
Trustee Andrew Przybylo questioned whether term limits would cause “gifted incumbents” to be replaced with “mediocre” people. He also did not think two terms was enough for mayor because he believes the mayor may need more time to finish projects. Mayor Robert Callero shared that sentiment.
Przybylo said he is in favor of term limits, but opposed the petition because it lumped the trustees and mayor together, setting a limit of 16 years for all. The petition also would have been retroactive, so trustees who have served over 16 years, like Przybylo, would not be able to serve again.
During the Oct. 23 board meeting trustees seemed to agree that any change should not be retroactive. Resident Harry Achino said he did not sign the petition because of the retroactive aspect.
“It wasn’t about good governance at all,” said Achino, who referred to the petition as a “vendetta” against certain trustees on the board.
“We’re not trying to get rid of people,” Makula responded the following day. “We never presented it as such. We read the petition to everyone that signed it. We’re looking to get some better governance here.”
Longtime Trustee Louella Preston isn’t in favor of term limits.
“I really believe that institutional knowledge is very important,” Preston said. She said she has not served as village trustee for the money, but for good government in Niles.
Resident Mary Marusek, who ran for Niles village trustee in the last election, said she circulated petitions for Makula and found residents were passionate about the issue of term limits.
Przybylo asked Marusek if she felt people cared about the subject because of former Mayor Nicholas Blase. Marusek said some residents brought up Blase, who led the village for over four decades, but others just shared a general concern about people serving in a position of power for a long period of time.