Illinois is notorious for having too many units of government. Capital Township, which is coterminous with the City of Springfield, is widely considered obsolete. Local leaders are working to abolish the township, a move which should save taxpayers nearly $500,000 per year. But questions remain on what is to become of the township’s functions once it is dissolved. One proposal is to merge the township with the county. Supporters of this proposal point to the several county officials who also perform roles for the township. This question will appear on the November 6th ballot.
However, not everyone thinks that the county should take over the township. Mayor Jim Langfelder and Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin agree that the township should be dissolved, but they think the city should take over the remaining township functions. Normally, a townships’ primary function is to deal with roads. But because Capital Township is coterminous, or lies wholly within, the City of Springfield, it has no roads to take care of. The city takes care of the roads.
The other main function of the township handles is economic development. Langfelder pointed out that while the county could perform this function, it makes much more sense for the city to handle issues that will impact its community directly. Springfield may be the largest city in Sangamon County, but the County Board represents the numerous smaller communities in the county. The Springfield City Council, however, only represents the city, and is better positioned to assist local economic needs. McMenamin went on to say that the city should be the ones decided what taxes are levied and what money are spent. He likened it to letting Indiana making decision for Illinois. McMenamin also pointed out that when coterminous townships are dissolved, they are typically dissolved into their municipality, not their county.
The ballot questions
In November, township residents will see the county’s plan to give the township to the county on the ballot. Because this is a non-binding question, the results of the vote will only be informative to the county and township board. Similarly, the proposed question by Mayor Langfelder is also non-binding and will also have no effect on its own.
Because the city council declined to put the city’s question on the ballot, voters will first need to sign the a petition to get the question on the April 2019 ballot. Langfelder will need at least 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot, but the final number of signatures they need will not be known until after the November election. Supporters of the mayor’s position are currently passing petitions, and their efforts are expected to pick up after the November election. Only voters in the township can sign the petition.
No matter what results the ballot questions bring back, the Township will still need need to vote to absolve itself. The township has already agreed to absolve itself to the county, but Langfelder cautioned that this was possibly due to the officials who overlap between the county and the township. And the county would still need approval from the state to take over the township because it is coterminous with a municipality.
You can watch our full interview with Langfelder and McMenamin in the player below. We apologize that the audio is not up to our normal standards.
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.
New faces joining Jacksonville city council tonight
The Jacksonville City Council will be welcoming its two new members at tonight’s meeting. Brandon Adams defeated incumbent Karen Day-Mudd 167 to 139 in Ward 3. Mudd had recently been appointed for the remaining two years of the term. Adams will be joined by fellow newcomer Eren Williams. Williams was running unopposed in Ward 1.
Michael Bartlett, the other Ward 3 incumbent, fended off challenger Nicole Riley by a margin of just four votes. Incumbents Tony Williams (Ward 2) and Donald Cook (Ward 5) also won their reelection bids. Incumbent Aaron Scott (Ward 4) ran unopposed.
The swearing-in ceremony will be held tonight in the City Council room. The workshop session starts at 6:00 PM, with the chamber session following after.
You can see all the results for Jacksonville here.
Springfield reelects Langfelder, most incumbents
With 100 percent of the precincts reporting in, it appears Jim Langfelder has won another term as Springfield’s mayor. Langfelder received 58 percent of the vote, while his opponent, Frank Edwards, received 42 percent. He took 14,573 of the 25,092 votes cast.
Mayor Langfelder will have a familiar group with him at the council. City Treasurer Misty Buscher and City Clerk Frank Lesko both defeated their challengers. Lesko held on against Rianne Hawkins 54-46. Buscher won with 74 percent over Jennifer Notariano. Aldermanic races were mostly in favor of incumbents as well. Chuck Redpath (Ward 1), John Fulgenzi (Ward 4), Andrew Proctor (Ward 5), Kristin DiCenso (Ward 6), Joe McMenamin (Ward 7), and Ralph Hanauer (Ward 10) all retired their seats. Dorris Turner (Ward 3) and James Donelan (Ward 9) had no registered opponents.
Ward 8 was an open race. Longtime Alderman Kris Theilen term-limited out, and three candidates ran for the seat. Erin Conley won, taking 58 percent over Dean Graven’s 36 percent.
It currently looks as if Willie “Shawn” Gregory will be the next Ward 2 alderman. Gregory won over Gail Simpson by a single vote, 464 to 463. Alderman Herman Senor came in third, with 392 votes, or 28 percent.
For the full results of the Springfield election, as well as other races in Sangamon County, check of the County Clerk’s election page.
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