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It's Alive! Petition Revives Tinley Park's Term Limits Debate

Lawyer Steve Eberhardt is trying to put a binding referendum on the November ballot that would limit elected village officials to only three consecutive terms.

Credit: File Photo
Credit: File Photo
In 2012, lawyer Steve Eberhardt spearheaded a successful effort to put a non-binding referendum asking the village to consider term limits for elected Tinley Park officials on the November ballot.

The advisory referendum passed by about 72 percent of the vote, and that spurred Mayor Ed Zabrocki to create a commission to look into the issue in 2013. Although the research from that panel saw benefits in such limits, the committee did not hand down a recommendation either way in its final report

READ: Tinley Park to Mull Term Limits

Now, Eberhardt is taking another stab at term limits with an effort that will give the people's voice a bit more volume if passed. He has started a petition to collect signatures to put a binding referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot that, if passed, would mandate term limits for elected village officials. Over the weekend, Eberhardt, who ran for Tinley Park mayor against Zabrocki in 2012, posted a call for volunteers to help with the petition on his Tinley Sparks website.

The referendum would read as follows if it makes the ballot:

"Shall the Village of Tinley Park enact term limits prohibiting any person from serving more than three (3) consecutive full or partial terms as president or trustee, effective immediately upon approval and passage of this binding referendum?"

READ: Village Keeps Quiet on Term Limits Report For Now

The reason behind taking another crack at term limits with a measure that has teeth comes from dissatisfaction over village officials' responses to voters' overwhelming support of the idea, Eberhardt said. The advisory referendum, which passed by a 16,126-to-6,386 margin in 2012, and the term limits committee findings, which said limits had more benefits than detriments, are clear messages, he added.

"Seventy-two percent of the people said they want term limits," Eberhardt said. "We [Tinley Park] want[s] term limits. 

Dissent has been from elected village officials—Zabrocki is serving his ninth term as mayor—and the committee itself, which offered more of a "no opinion" as its final recommendation than an actual thumbs up or thumbs down to term limits in Tinley Park. Essentially, the panel said it was up to the Village Board to decide if term limits should be enacted.

"Based on the electorate, 72% voted to impose mandatory term limits for all elected officials," the commission stated in its final report. "It is now up to the Village Board, not this term limits commission, to answer the voters."

READ: Check Out the Commission's Full Final Report on the Village's Website
 
Eberhardt and his supporters, however, want to keep that decision in the hands of voters.

"Once we saw the commission report, we … took what was consistent with the report," Eberhardt said of creating the petition for the new referendum and why a three-term limit was chosen, which was mentioned in the report's research as being a good length. "What we're saying is, '[Mayor] Ed [Zabrocki], we gave you a chance to listen to the people. You snubbed them. We're going to make it a mandatory referendum.' "

The petition needs 960 signatures and must be approved by the Village Clerk in order to be put on the ballot. Eberhardt has until early August to accomplish that task. If the referendum makes it to the ballot and is passed by voters, it would go into effect for the April 2015 municipal elections.

His plan is to contact supporters of the past measure, as well as attending public events throughout the village between now and then—including March's Irish Parade, April's Discover Tinley and the summer's numerous outdoor activities—to find new signers. In fact, volunteers were already out in December to get signatures at the village's Holiday Market, Eberhardt said. 

READ: Zabrocki, Team Tinley Incumbents Stay in Office

For the advisory referendum, Eberhardt was able to collect about 1,900 signatures in about three months. With almost three times as much time to accomplish his goal, he's confident Tinley Park voters will see the mandatory referendum in November.

"Considering the general attitude nowadays of the public, I'm comfortable that it will be successful," he said.

Go to the Tinley Sparks website or call Steve Eberhardt at 708-633-9100 to contact him for more information about the petition and how to sign it.

Other Term Limits Stories on Tinley Park Patch:
Larry January 22, 2014 at 06:43 PM
How do you vote out incumbents that have been in office for 30+ years and control the voters in Illinois, it isn't that simple, Igrafstrom you just made a comment about why another person cannot beat some incumbents, you stated " If you can't get enough people to vote for you, get out of the way" that is why we need TERM -LIMITS on all levels of Government, not as much as it is needed in Springfield. The states economy has DECLINED since the Democrats have held the Governors seat. Too much foolish Spending.
TP Resident January 22, 2014 at 07:22 PM
Hey Larry, I am not a fan of our state government but you need to get over it! That's all you talk about! Look for the Springfield forum!
Larry January 22, 2014 at 07:32 PM
YA well the only way to change it is TERM LIMITS!!! AND BECAUSE OF THEIR MIS-MANAGEMENT OF MONEY MY PENSION IS IN JEPORDY!!! That's why I DWELLED ON IT,BUT I WON'T ANYMORE, Did you know that while retirees are having to pay for our health insurance now, that Cook County State I.D.O.T employees are supposed to receive FREE HEALTH INSURANCE FOR NOT ONLY THEIR-SELVES BUT THEIR FAMILIES, when we retired we were told that our Health insurance was covered until we die. So Springfield is Dimminishing our pensions!!! TP RESIDENT it is about incumbents, and the example I explained to you about the pensions is another reason for TERM Limits. SO-sorry I talked about the Crooks IN SPRINGFIELD.
Heather S. January 26, 2014 at 10:58 PM
I have never ONCE voted for Zabrocki in an election becasue I don't feel he has the best intentions for Tinley and yet on the flip side I never just 'voted for the other guy'. I vote for whoever has the best interest in the Village/State/Nation and platform that matches my interests. If none of the candidates has won me over then I leave those votes un-cast. I have done this for several elections so what does that say about the people running for office?

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