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Batavia aldermen reject term limits

Council member’s ballot plan fails to gain support

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BATAVIA – When examining political dysfunction in the U.S. Congress and Illinois General Assembly, Batavia 5th Ward Alderman Mark Uher thinks legislative term limits may be the solution. However, Uher said it would be hypocritical for him to call for term limits at the state and federal levels, when there are no limits on aldermanic terms of office in Batavia.

Uher, who only a year ago was elected to his first term on the Batavia City Council, proposed during a recent committee meeting that a term-limit referendum be placed before voters at the next election.

While Uher’s aldermanic colleagues share his view of counterproductive turmoil in Springfield and Washington, none think term limits in Batavia a good idea.

“At the city level, I don’t think this is necessary,” 3rd Ward Alderman Elliot Meitzler said.

“Elections are term limits,” 6th Ward Alderman Michael Russotto said. “This would not do the city of Batavia any justice.”

Seventh Ward Alderman Drew McFadden, now in his second term, said having long-serving aldermen is a benefit – and that term limits would unnecessarily handicap the council.

“We would lose the institutional knowledge that I find to be incredibly valuable,” McFadden said. “I’d hate to artificially lose that.”

Uher was careful to say that his proposal was not aimed at any of the council’s long-serving aldermen, or Mayor Jeff Schielke, now in his 10th term of office.

Seventh Ward Alderman Dave Brown is the council’s senior member, with 21 years on the council. Second Ward Alderman Alan Wolff has served 15 years.

But the remainder of the council has served much less time, and there has been considerable turnover.

Second Ward Alderman Marty Callahan noted that since 2013, there have been 28 different individuals serving on the 14-member council.

That trend appears likely to continue.

“We almost have our own self-imposed term limits,” said 4th Ward Alderman Susan Stark, a seven-year council member who said that “legislative fatigue sets in,” later adding: “I know I’m not going to run again.”

Brown and Third Ward Alderman Dan Chanzit, both of whose current terms expire next year, have suggested they may not run again.

Uher was proposing a four-term limit for aldermen. Council terms are four years long.

With no council support for Uher’s plan, a term-limit referendum seems unlikely, unless voters petition for a question to be placed on an election ballot.