One less question will likely be showing up on the November ballot. Last night, the Springfield City Council voted to table a proposed referendum to have Capital Township dissolved into the City of Springfield. Capital Township is coterminous with the city, so they cover the same area. Because of the overlap, many of the functions a township would normally carry out are done by the city, and several township positions are held by their county counterparts.
There is a wider push in Illinois to consolidate units of government. The few remaining coterminous townships like Capital Township are prime targets for this movement. If fact, the city’s question was very similar to one posed by Sangamon County. Their question would have the township dissolved into the county. This similarity lead to some concerns. Aldermen Redpath said that although the questions are non-binding, they might be confusing to voters since only one could actually be implemented. Alderwoman Turner countered this objection, saying it was critical that voters have multiple options on what she referred to as an issue with strong political overtones.
Other aldermen had issue with the non-binding element of the question. By statute, there are ways for a city to dissolve a coterminous township. Aldermen Donelan said that if the city wants to dissolve the township, it should do it the right way. Aldermen Theilen echoed this sentiment, saying he was opposed to non-binding referendums as a general principle.
Concerns about potential cost were also raised and addressed. Director McCarty said that because the taxing authority for the township will still be present if the township was dissolved, taxes should not go up as a result. But, because the overhead of the township could be consolidated with another body, taxpayers should see some saving from the move.
In the end, the council voted 7-3 against moving the issue out of committee. Alders Turner, DiCenso, and McMenamin voted to move to the question forward. The vote to table the issue passed 6-4. Because it takes a supermajority to take an issue off the table, three aldermen would need to change their votes to bring the issue back up. However, this is not necessarily the end of the issue. A proposal done “the right way” to dissolve the township into the city could still be brought forward, or some aldermen could change their stance and un-table this question.
Second Amendment activists push for a sanctuary county
Last weekend, local pro-Second Amendment groups met in Springfield to discuss their movement to make Sangamon County a “gun sanctuary” county. The gun sanctuary movement is modeled off of sanctuary city movement used to protect illegal immigrants. But instead of harboring illegal immigrants, local governments would refuse to comply with various gun-control legislation.
The gun sanctuary movement was started in Effingham County by David Campbell. Campbell was present, and spoke about how his idea turned into a national movement. Some 400 counties across the nation have passed gun sanctuary resolutions, including 62 in Illinois. Sangamon County has not passed the resolution. Organizers said that getting Sangamon County to pass the resolution is key to convincing other holdouts to do the same. However, there is little indication that the county board will act on the resolution. No board members attended the event, despite being invited by the organizers.
Speakers at the event also spoke about plans to break Illinois into two states. Brad Halbrook, the state representative from the 102nd District explained the two movements that are working towards separation. Audience members asked about the numerous logistical questions regarding such a separation, including which state would be responsible for current debt, as well as control over waterways. The primary hurdles are still the state and federal legislatures, both of whom would need to approve the proposal, and neither body is expected to entertain much less support the proposal.
The event drew around 60 attendees and was held at Destiny Church.
Recount planned for Ward 2
Voters in Ward 2 proved the old adage that every vote matters. On election night, it looked like Shawn Gregory had clinched the Ward 2 aldermanic race by one vote. But after all of the votes were tallied, his opponent Gail Simpson was certified as the winner; also by just one vote. With such a narrow margin, a challenge was almost inevitable.
At a special meeting of the city council, a formal recount was approved. Recounts are required from time to time, and so Springfield does have some experience with them. But setting up all of the specifics for the recount will take some time. At the June 4th meeting, the City Council will approve the recount plan and set a date for when it will happen.
While conceptually simple, a recount is a serious undertaking. It is more than just the County Clerk going back to the ballot boxes and tallying the votes again. Careful steps have to be taken to ensure the integrity of the vote. Lawyers for both candidates will be present to go through each ballot to determine how they should be counted. There will also be impartial observers, but these have yet to be selected.
In the mean time, Gail Simpson will be seated as Ward 2 alderman. The inauguration is Wednesday, May 22nd, and will take place at UIS’ Sangamon Auditorium. She will be the acting alderman for the ward at least until the recount is completed.
You can watch the council’s full discussion in the player.
Sales tax and township consolidation propositions pass
In addition to the candidates running for office, there were several questions on the ballot for voters in Sangamon County. One question was if Capital Township should be consolidated with Sangamon County. The other was if there should be a one percent sales tax to help schools pay for facility improvements.
Both questions passed. The township question passed handily with 75 percent of the vote. The sales tax was approved much more narrowly, 53 to 47 percent.
Because it was a non-binding question, the township vote will do nothing by itself. It will, however, strengthen the case for the county and township to consolidate.
The sales tax referendum was a binding question, and will go into effect July of 2019. It is expected to raise about $10 million for District 186, and another $10 million for other districts in Sangamon County.