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Term Limit And Property Tax Referenda Go On McLean County Ballot

The McLean County Board decided Tuesday to put two advisory referenda on the fall ballot.

One asks voter opinions about term limits for all elected officials. The other is about a potential 1 percent statewide property tax hike to help fund pension obligations.

Democratic board member Erik Rankin said it's hard enough finding candidates for office without excluding some.

"Not enough people want to do this job period, and all of you understand that. It is difficult. It pays next to nothing. You have downright evil things said about you by the tinfoil hat-wearing Pantagraph comment posters and on local blogs," said Rankin.

Republicans, including Chuck Erickson, said the ballot measures will allow citizens of McLean County to express their collective views.

Erickson acknowledged politics may play a role in that, but says he supports the merits of the questions as well.

Chuck Erickson closeup
Credit Ralph Weisheit / WGLT
McLean County Board member Chuck Erickson, a former McLean County Republican Party chair.

"If our referendum is nothing more than a nudge, and I mean that, if it's nothing more than a gentle elbow from our citizens to start Springfield talking about term limits, then by all means I will vote in favor of it," said Erickson, a former McLean County Republican Party chair.

Rankin said political parties have a history of putting referenda on the ballot to stimulate turnout of their voters in upcoming elections.

"This is a cheap political statement," said Rankin, chair of the McLean County Democratic Party.

Rankin said voters already have the ability to limit an office holder's service in regular elections. He said a better target for voter action to improve government accountability is to end gerrymandering.

Republican board member George Wendt said he opposes term limits but voted for it because the people should have a chance to weigh in.

Democratic board member Laurie Wollrab said she believes this is not the role of the county, that the measures are an improper attempt to insert the county into the role of state government.

The referenda are nonbinding.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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