The Citizens Network of Protection (CNP), which for several months has been advocating for an independent police review board, is seeking signatures on petitions to place a referendum question on the April 4 ballot asking voters to approve an elected review board.

The question is “Shall the City of Evanston establish a democratically elected independent civilian police review board of fifteen members, which shall be independently funded by one percent increase in sales tax, liquor tax, hotel tax, entertainment tax, and rental car tax, which shall serve to increase: transparency, complaint investigation, and follow-up, the protection of civil and human rights, and trust between the community and the Evanston Police Department?”

Betty Ester of CNP says she envisions the board will have residents from each ward, will be responsible for the management of funds, and will appoint an Executive Director to carry out the board’s functions and responsibilities.

The petition does not state whether the referendum is intended to be advisory or legally binding.

For a referendum question to have legal effect, it must be authorized by a political subdivision statute, such as a school code or a municipal code, according to the State Board of Elections’ Official’s Handbook for the 2017 Consolidated Elections. The handbook refers to 10 ILCS 5/28-1. 

If the referendum question is meant to be advisory only, the general petition requirements of the Election Code control the process, per 10 ILCS 5/28-1, 28-6(a), according to the handbook.

The petition says it is brought pursuant to Illinois Constitution Article 7 Section 6(f) and 10 ICLS 5/16-7 and 10 ICLS 5/28.  Objections to the petitions may be filed pursuant to 10 ICLS 5/28-4.

CNP will be collecting signatures on petitions through Jan.3, Ms. Ester said. The number of signatures to be collected must be 8% of the total number of votes cast in Evanston in the most recent gubernatorial election.  The signatures do not bind the signer to vote in favor of the referendum question; they indicate support for getting the question on the ballot. 

Between January and the end of March, CNP will conduct community meetings “to educate citizens in the community about the proposal and why this proposal is so important for the residents of Evanston, and listen to feedback  … so residents can make an informed decision at the polls on April 4,” Ms. Ester said.