Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Board Member Terms

DuPage eyes setting board member terms
By Susan Frick Carlman August 14, 2012 5:10PM

Updated: August 15, 2012 7:30AM 

Not all of those who emerge victorious on Election Night will face the same duration of elected office. Officials in DuPage County are trying, though, to ensure that each has an equal chance of serving a full four years.

The County Board — all 18 positions of which will go before the voters on Nov. 6 — will decide at its Aug. 28 meeting how to meet the legal requirement to openly divide its six districts into groups to determine how long each of its members will serve. The board faces a Sept. 1 deadline under the Counties Code for devising a solution.
The change is necessitated by last year’s redrawing of electoral districts, a requirement that follows the U.S. Census head count done at the start of every decade. It also enables the county to meet the requirement that the voters be allowed to weigh in every two years on their representation in DuPage.
Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Wolfe, who last week circulated a confidential memo to the County Board addressing the issue, said the process must be done as fairly as possible.
“The randomness, I think, is the important issue,” she said.
Wolfe’s memo outlined an approach that would have the county clerk draw lots putting two districts in each of three groups, with staggered terms for each of the three representatives in each: two, four and four; four, two and four; or four, four and two years. The successful candidate who receives the most votes could be permitted to choose the configuration for that position over the ensuing decade, Wolfe said.

Board member Tony Michelassi, who represents Naperville and the rest of District 5, presented a similar draft ordinance Tuesday that would divide the board into three groups and have the lots drawn by the election winners. Whichever method is chosen, the limits will apply until the 2020 census calls for redistricting ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The county has historically used an informal drawing to decide who serves in office for which duration, but now it must be done sooner. Thirteen of the current members are seeking re-election, including all three District 5 representatives.
Although the draft ordinance calls for the reapportionment to follow certification of the November election results, Chairman Dan Cronin said the members could choose to draw their respective terms as soon as the ordinance is approved and the groups have been set.
“That way as you’re campaigning, you can say, ‘I’m running for a two-year term,’ or whatever the case may be,” he said. “It’s up to you.”

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