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Normal's Electoral Board to hear objection to Town Council redistricting plan

Normal clerk Angie Huonker looks through petitions filed Monday afternoon.
Lyndsay Jones
More than two dozen people gathered Aug. 8 at Normal City Hall to oversee the passing of the petitions to City Clerk Angie Huonker.

A Normal resident has filed an objection to a petition effort to overhaul how voters elect Town Council members, arguing that supporters have misinterpreted state law and have not collected enough signatures.

Supporters of the effort want to ask voters on the November ballot whether to replace the Normal Town Council’s at-large form of representative government with one that is district-based, similar to what Bloomington has with its wards.

Supporters argue that having each Town Council member represent just one of six districts — instead of the whole town — will make it easier to run for office and provide more responsive representation. Critics of the idea, such as Normal
Mayor Chris Koos, say it's a "solution in search of a problem."

Earlier this month those supporters filed what they said was about 2,200 signatures on a petition to put the question before voters.

Patrick Dullard of Normal filed an objection to their petition this week. He argued the relevant state municipal law for redistricting only allows for villages to do it. He said it “does not apply to an incorporated town, such as the Town of Normal, thus making the petition invalid.”

Dullard’s challenge also argued the petition “does not contain enough valid signatures of electors in the Town of Normal to meet the 5% threshold” required by state law.

It’s unclear which signatures Dullard is seeking to have ruled invalid or disqualified. “Electors” is defined as persons qualified to vote for elective officers at municipal elections. In Normal, there are about 45,477 people age 18 and over; 5% of that total would be around 2,273 people. Supporters claimed to submit around 2,200 signatures.

Those signatures were collected by an array of politically active Twin City figures, including many prominent conservatives who have butted heads with current town leadership. That includes current Normal Town Council member Stan Nord and former mayoral candidate Marc Tiritilli, plus former Town Council candidate and now County Board candidate Steve Harsh, former Republican state representative candidate Jim Fisher, Cities 92.9 staff member Catrina Petersen and Cities host Steve Suess, and BLN News blogger Diane Benjamin. Also collecting signatures was Krystle Able, a Democrat whose appointment to the County Board was just narrowly rejected.

“My interest in filing this objection is to protect my right as a citizen of the Town of Normal vote for all members of the Town Council,” Dullard wrote in his objection.

Dullard’s objection will be heard at a meeting of the Normal Municipal Officers Electoral Board at 3 p.m. Monday at City Hall in Uptown Normal. The town’s legal department will be appointed counsel to the board.

The Electoral Board consists of Mayor Koos, City Clerk Angie Huonker, and the longest-serving council member, Kevin McCarthy. Koos has expressed opposition to the redistricting plan.

The town has a deadline of Sept. 1 to file a ballot certification process with the county to get the question on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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