A committee established to keep Naperville City Council members elected at large hosted its first public informational meeting on Aug. 27 in the Meeting House at Naper Settlement. The purpose was to enlist the help of interested registered voters to circulate petitions for the “Yes At Large” Campaign.
The group also plans to meet at 7PM Tues., Aug. 28, at the 95th Street Library. Again, the public is welcome to attend.
Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Rebecca Obarski and Dean Reschke, Yes At Large wants to ask the question, “Shall the City of Naperville elect the city council at large instead of part of the councilmen at large and part of the councilmen from districts?” as a referendum item on the Consolidated Election ballot of April 9, 2013.
They advocate a “Yes” vote on that question. They urge all qualified voters within the City of Naperville to become informed and involved in reconsidering and reversing the 2010 decision to move to a divided ward system of governance for City Council.
During opening remarks, Reschke reminisced about his great experiences growing up in Naperville in the mid-1950s when the city was about 7,000 residents. Today Naperville has a population of 141,000 and has grown since 1831 from two square miles to cover 38 square miles.
“At-large representation has been fundamental to Naperville’s planned growth,” said Reschke, a former member of the Naperville Unit School District 203 Board of Education. “Community leaders on all the boards have always been aware of the interests of the whole.”
Citing higher costs to operate districts, divisiveness, higher taxes and “horse trading among councilmen,” Reschke expressed that he is ” deeply concerned” about many unintended consequences that could occur if the change to districts happens in 2015.
“Yes At Large” recognizes the strong results of the November 2010 ballot that favored districts. Yet organizers of “Yes At Large” are moving forward to raise awareness about all the unintended consequences of districts in favor of at large.
For instance, at large allows every citizen to vote for all candidates, not half. At large emphasizes councils focus on the whole, not just parts of Naperville. At large does not budget for geographic spending or special interests, organizers said.
Noting two terms on City Council and two terms as Mayor, Peg Price, one of the featured presenters, said she’d served on councils where members sometimes had disagreements, “but we always worked for the common goal.” She supports ” Yes At Large.”
Fielding questions about the petition-signing campaign, Obarski also walked the audience of about 35 residents through the process of asking qualified citizens to sign petitions. “Registered voters are asked to sign the petition that will allow the question to be placed on the ballot,” she explained, noting signing the petition did not necessarily mean support.
Qualified voters who sign the petition will help advance the referendum question to a place on the ballot for consideration, much like signing a candidate’s petition will put him/or her on the ballot for election.
“After we have 2,000 signatures of registered Naperville voters in DuPage and Will Counties to put the question on the ballot, Yes At Large will educate and advocate for the at large system.”
The first task is to get the question on the ballot, she said.
Obarski also said “Yes At Large” had launched its website earlier in the day, complete with FAQ, historical background, voter information and ways to help.
For more information, visit www.yesatlarge.com or contact Rebecca Obarski at (630) 355-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.