Unless there is an objection by Monday, voters in Tinley Park will have the chance in November to vote on whether elected officials in the village should face term limits in the future.
A petition containing 1,900 signatures asking the Village Board to hold an advisory referendum on term limits was filed with the Village Clerk’s office on Monday by attorney Steve Eberhardt.
The petition asks the village to place the following question on the November ballot:
“Shall the Village Board of the Village of Tinley Park pass an Ordinance imposing term limits on all elected officials?”
Village Clerk Patrick Rea said the petition met the state’s standards for advisory referendums.
“Unless there’s an objection filed by Monday, the question will be on the ballot in November,” Rea said. “If voters want to see the petition, they can come to Village Hall.”
Eberhardt said the idea to call for term limits stemmed from a fight in 2010 between the village and neighbors in the Barretts subdivision over plans for a senior housing project near 179th Street and Harlem Avenue called Thomas Place, which eventually fell through.
“Me and my neighbors would go to Village Board meetings to oppose the project and the board would just look at us like they could care less,” he said. “We talked about their lack of interest and decided it was time to impose term limits.”
“It seems by the number of signatures we obtained that a good portion of registered voters feel that the Village Board doesn’t listen to them,” he said.
The question doesn’t specify how many terms officials should be limited to, but Eberhardt said he personally feels two terms is enough.
Mayor Ed Zabrocki, who has been in office since 1981, said term limits for local officials are extremely rare, and he didn’t know why Eberhardt was pushing for them.
“I don’t know his motivation,” Zabrocki said. “He’s never contacted me about it. I don’t know what we are supposed to be doing wrong.”
Zabrocki said elections are natural term limits for officials who aren’t doing their jobs.
“It’s incumbent on elected officials to do a good job,” he said. “Turnout at municipal elections is very small, so it doesn’t take a lot of votes to make a difference in a local election.”
“Term limits limit a person’s democratic process by denying them the opportunity to vote for someone,” Zabrocki said.
Both Zabrocki and Rea said if it goes through it will probably be the first advisory referendum in the village’s history.
“I’ve never heard of one in more than 40 years,” said Rea who has been clerk for four years and was a village trustee for 38 years before that.
As an advisory referendum, the result is not binding on the Village Board.
For information on the petition, residents can call Rea or Deputy Clerk Laura Godette at 708-444-5000.