Rockford Council Approves Home Rule Recall Provision For Mayor And Aldermen

Mar 6, 2018

Credit The Rock River Times

The Rockford City Council approved a resolution Monday that would allow residents to recall aldermen and mayors if they go against certain provisions that are part of a bid for home rule.

A referendum on the March 20 ballot asks Rockford residents to grant home rule authority. But the council already has approved provisions to limit how the city raises property taxes and takes on debt.

Rockford would have to keep current property tax caps, and any increases would require advance public notice, a hearing, and a supermajority vote from City Council. The city's total debt also would be capped at 20% less than non-home rule cities.  

Mayor Tom McNamara says these limits were put in place to assuage residents wary of too much local authority. The recall resolution would serve as an enforcement mechanism.

"My thought is that, if we are asking for more responsibility, we need to provide that same level of respect to citizens who vote us in," he said. 

McNamara says the mayor could have been recalled for any reason under the original proposal. But Fifth-Ward Alderwoman Venita Hervey amended the resolution so recalls could be done only if the mayor violated these pre-approved Home Rule limits -- the same restriction that would apply to aldermen.

“One single, highly funded individual or committee could come forward and recall any future mayor for anything, and she thought that there needed to be some requirements on that," he said.

The Rockford recall provision and limits on local authority all are contingent on residents passing the home rule referendum in the March 20 Primary.  Currently, Buffalo Grove is the only home-rule municipality in Illinois that allows recalls.