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Referendums crowd local ballots

A number of referendums are further crowding an already packed ballot.

McHenry County voters face three countywide questions, including one to change county government and another to change the state constitution. Voters in Island Lake and Fox Lake will face local referendums of their own.

The following is a list of referendum questions McHenry County voters will see on their ballots.

• COUNTY EXECUTIVE: The most significant referendum on county ballots will ask voters whether they want to change county government to an executive form.

If approved, the voters would allow for the creation of the countywide office of executive. The executive, as the name suggests, would be in charge of the day-to-day functions of county government, not unlike the current county administrator, who is hired by the County Board.

State law empowers county executives with greater authority than a county board chairman. They include veto power over board legislation, drafting the county budget, and hiring and firing staff, all with the approval of the board.

The McHenry County Board chairman is selected by the board’s 24 members after each November election and is not popularly elected.

The ballot question specifically excludes granting the county home rule power, which otherwise would automatically come with the office. Will County is the only county in the state with an executive form of government.

The question reads, “Shall the County of McHenry adopt the County Executive Form of Government and elect not to become a home rule unit?”

• CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: Voters will be asked whether they want to amend the Illinois Constitution to make it harder for governments to increase pension benefits. This is the third consecutive general election in which voters have been asked to either amend or authorize a rewrite of the state Constitution.

The amendment, if approved, would require a three-fifths vote of any Illinois government to approve any law sweetening public-sector pension benefits. In Springfield, that would mean 71 House votes and 36 Senate votes. For a school board, it would mean five votes instead of four, and it would not affect four- and five-member pension boards because a supermajority is mathematically identical to a simple majority.

The amendment is approved if either three-fifths of those voting on it or a simple majority of those voting in the election vote in favor.

The wording of the proposed amendment, which is not included on the ballot itself, is more than 700 words long.

• MULTIPLE OFFICES: Voters will be asked whether they support allowing Illinois officials to hold more than one elected office at the same time. The question is advisory only and is not legally binding.

State law currently allows officials to hold multiple elected seats, although a body of laws and court opinions set down rules for incompatible offices, typically in cases of conflict of interest or conflict of duties.

The ballot question reads, “Should Illinois law permit an individual to hold two or more elected offices simultaneously?”

The way the question is worded, a “yes” vote means you support keeping the status quo and allowing people to hold multiple offices, and a “no” vote means you want the practice abolished.

• ISLAND LAKE REFERENDUMS – Island Lake voters will weigh in on two local referendums, one binding and one advisory.

The binding referendum asks voters whether the village clerk should be appointed by the mayor with approval from village trustees. The advisory referendum asks voters whether the village should build a new municipal complex.

The ballot questions read, “Shall the Village Clerk of Island Lake be appointed by the Mayor with the concurrence of the Village Board, rather than elected?” and “Shall the Village of Island Lake, Illinois undertake a multimillion-dollar obligation to construct a combined public safety facility?”

• FOX LAKE AGGREGATION – Voters in Fox Lake will be asked whether they want the village to be able to shop competitively for lower electricity costs for residents and small businesses.

The ballot question reads, “Shall the Village of Fox Lake of Lake and McHenry Counties, Illinois, have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?”

The question has been asked in many McHenry County municipalities with mixed results. It has passed in 10 municipalities and failed in 10, which includes unincorporated McHenry County.

Island Lake and Fox Lake are split between McHenry and Lake counties. The only countywide question on the Lake County ballot is the constitutional amendment – those voters will not weigh in on the county executive or holding multiple offices.

• KANE COUNTY – Besides the binding state Constitution question, voters in Kane County will face an advisory question asking whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to limit private campaign contributions.

Early voting

Early voting began last Monday, and continues at 10 locations countywide through next Saturday. Visit the McHenry County Clerk’s website at co.mchenry.il.us/departments/countyclerk to learn more.

On the Net

Visit Northwest Herald Election Central at NWHerald.com/election to learn more about the issues and candidates in the Nov. 6 election.

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