Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Greg Hinz: New law makes it twice as hard to run for alderman

Come fall 2014 not long after the general elections next year, it'll be time to circulate petitions for the municipal election of 2015. If you plan to run, you most certainly will need to start working on your petition signature gameplan now!
Do you know that a new law will make it twice as hard to run for alderman in 2015 as it was in the last election?

If you didn't — and almost no one does — welcome to the world of sneaky Springfield politics, in which what some call the new "aldermanic protection plan" gets enacted without anyone really noticing.

The measure involved will double the number of petition signatures from qualified voters that will be needed to run from alderman from 2 percent of the votes cast in the last election to 4 percent. In other words, it'll be twice as hard to dump turkey incumbents.

In most cases, that means a candidate will need something like 300 to 600 signatures, up from roughly 150 to 300 now, according to Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen. (The figures vary because voter turnout rates sharply vary from ward to ward.) But since election lawyers tend to pick apart petitions on all sorts of teeny technicalities — i.e. someone signed "Dick" rather than "Richard" — the wise candidate will secure at least twice the minimum number of signatures needed. That means that under the new law a candidate really will need 600 to 1,200 signatures, and getting them is no easy task.
Anyhow, buried on bottom of page 168 of the 194-page S.B. 2418, as amended by Mr. Harmon, is a three-word amendment to current law, changing "two per cent" to "4 percent."

Three words in 194 pages. Perhaps that's why no one noticed it, given that the main feature of the bill — and all of the headlines — centered on how it also makes Illinois the 18th state to allow online voter registration.

Now, Gov. Pat Quinn has a big staff that reviews bills like these to unearth

their mysteries. He or his staff must have known about the aldermanic change.
In mentioning Gov. Quinn who is running for re-election that he used his amendatory veto to deny state legislators their salaries in order to force them into action on pensions. So Hinz notes his lack of any action on this legislation and also noted the recent appointment of Deborah Mell to her father - powerful former Ald. Richard Mell - old city council seat by the Governor and Mayor Emanuel respectively.

This could lead to a conclusion I'm sure many of you have already reached on this story. It just let's us know that we need to pay attention if it's not on the city council it's in Springfield or Washington. Someone had to comb through this law to find the minor details!

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