Take Charge Chicago, P.O. Box 8048, Chicago, IL 60680 info@takechargechicago.org 1-773-999-2016

Pat Quinn Launches Petition Drive for Two Binding Referendums in Chicago

For Immediate Release Sunday, June 12, 2016

Take Charge Chicago Referendums” Would Put Term Limits on the Mayor and Elect a Consumer Advocate

CHICAGO – Pat Quinn, who served as Illinois Governor from 2009 to 2015, today launched a citywide petition drive – Take Charge Chicago – to place two binding referendums on the Chicago ballot: term limits on the Office of Mayor and direct election by voters of a Consumer Advocate to represent the city’s beleaguered consumers and taxpayers.

Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, only Chicago does not have a term limit on its mayor. The following big cities have imposed mayoral term limits: New York Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio, Dallas and San Jose.

“The office of Chicago Mayor belongs to the people of Chicago, and our referendum to put term limits on the mayor will open the doors of City Hall and let the people in,” said Quinn. “The people should tell the Mayor what the rules are, instead of the Mayor telling us.”

In 1970, Illinois voters approved Article VII, Section II of the state constitution which gives voters in every municipality the right to petition for a term limits referendum on their local officials and also the right to create a local elective office to better represent consumers and taxpayers.

Voters in at least 20 Illinois communities have used this petition and binding referendum power to impose term limits on their mayors, including Alsip, Brookfield, Country Club Hills, Des Plaines, Downers Grove, Fairview Heights, Franklin Park, Glencoe, Grayslake, Homer Glen, Lake Forest, Lakemoor, Lombard, Naperville, Oak Lawn, Riverside, Rolling Meadows, Springfield, Tinley Park, and Wilmette.

The United States Constitution imposes a two term limit on the office of President. George Washington began the tradition of voluntarily limiting his tenure to two elected terms. Founding Fathers Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were term limits advocates in the American drive to establish democracy and win independence from King George III in England who reigned on the throne for 59 years as monarch.

Quinn said the best way to address the serious issues currently facing the city is to have more democracy in Chicago and give everyday people a bigger voice in their city government through voter referendum.

“The Take Charge Chicago referendums to term limit the Mayor and elect a Consumer Advocate give voters a direct way to bypass City Hall and reform Chicago one petition signature at a time,” said Quinn.

Quinn said Take Charge Chicago needs to collect about 100,000 petition signatures to safely qualify the two referendums for the ballot and the goal is to collect signatures “from every city neighborhood for as long as it takes.”

“Times are tough, but the people of Chicago are tougher,” Quinn said. “It’s time to take on the entrenched economic interests that have taken advantage of Chicago consumers and taxpayers.”

“The Consumer Advocate will be a strong, independent voice who will stand up to the insiders on behalf of consumers and taxpayers who are not getting a fair shake,” Quinn said.  “The Consumer Advocate will fight against unfair insurance practices, cable TV abuses, credit redlining, scanner scamming in the marketplace and unsafe drinking water.”

The Consumer Advocate will be directly elected by Chicago voters in 2019, replacing the current appointee of the Mayor. The salary of the Consumer Advocate will be $133,545 compared to the current $157,092 of the Commissioner.

There is precedent for the creation of the Chicago Consumer Advocate. In 1994, the New York City Office of Public Advocate opened its doors. Since then, New York City’s Public Advocates have stood up for working people, tenants, students, children in need, and everyday consumers and taxpayers.”

The duties of the Consumer Advocate include:

  • protecting Chicago taxpayers and consumers from unfairness and inequality;
  • promoting a healthful environment, and
  • monitoring City Hall compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

Quinn has a long history of victories using petition and referendum. In 1982, Quinn won passage of a Chicago referendum which led to the creation of the Citizens Utility Board, Illinois’ largest consumer group for the past three decades. In 1980, Quinn led the petition and referendum drive for the Cutback Amendment, a state constitutional amendment which reduced the size of the Illinois House from 177 to 118 members.

In 1976, Quinn organized the largest petition drive in state history which collected 635,158 signatures to win passage of a state law ending the 100-year-old practice of legislators collecting their entire annual salary on their first day in office. In 1994, Quinn led a petition drive that collected 437,088 signatures calling for term limits on state legislators.

As Governor in 2010, Quinn won passage of a statewide referendum for the Recall Amendment, a state constitutional amendment giving Illinois voters the initiative right to recall a governor by referendum.

The Take Charge Chicago question on mayoral term limits would read as follows: “Shall Chicago adopt the following term limit for the office of Mayor effective for the mayoral election in 2019 and thereafter: No person may hold the office of Mayor for more than two consecutive elected 4-year terms (with all prior consecutive terms of the current officeholder counted in determining the term limit for that officeholder)?

The Take Charge Chicago question on an elected Consumer Advocate would read as follows: “Shall Chicago establish an elected Consumer Advocate for taxpayers and consumers to replace the appointed Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection?

Anyone interested in circulating or signing the Take Charge Chicago referendums to term limit the Mayor and elect a Consumer Advocate should contact Take Charge Chicago, PO Box 8048, Chicago, IL 60680, or call 773-999-2016. Visit TakeChargeChicago.org to download a petition, find Take Charge Chicago on Facebook and follow @TakeChargeChi on Twitter.

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Contact: Elizabeth Norden 312-213-0610, William Morgan 708-256-5743