Last week, the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform, a nonpartisan group pushing for changes in Skokie’s electoral system, hosted a news conference to present its mission.
The group is proposing to make elections nonpartisan, stagger terms for board members and require hybrid representation, which they say would ensure better geographic representation among board members.
Following the news conference, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen responded to the group’s initiatives in a lengthy statement. The Skokie Alliance replied to this statement with the following comment, shared with the RoundTable:
“While we recognize that some Skokie office-holders may not currently see the need for a more fair and representative electoral system, the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform draws purpose from our broad-based, grassroots foundation, expressing the clear vision of Skokie residents for a pro-democracy system that is more inclusive, transparent, and accountable. As both statistics and testimonials from the community indicate, our current system is biased against new candidates trying to run for Village seats, driving down voter turnout and representative accountability. The current structure also provides no guarantee of geographical representation, which has consistently led to a concentration of power in just one quadrant of Skokie. Hybrid representation will provide a balanced Village Board consisting of four district trustees providing localized representation, with two at-large trustees and the mayor maintaining village-wide representation. We encourage Village citizens to reimagine a Skokie in which civic engagement is welcomed by seated officials and in which each of us has a voice.
“Electoral reform is not a threat to the services overseen by the Village Manager and paid for by our tax dollars. But we deserve more than reliable garbage pickup. We deserve a thriving, robust democracy that encourages civic engagement and can meet the needs of a population much larger and more diverse than we were 50 years ago. Our proposed referendums – hybrid representation, staggered terms, and nonpartisan elections – will level the playing field for all candidates, give voters actual choice, and distribute representation across the Village.
“We invite the Mayor and Trustees to attend our public launch this Tuesday the 19th at 6:30 p.m. at Devonshire Cultural Center, 4400 Greenwood St., Skokie, to learn more about our work to create a more inclusive democracy in Skokie through ballot initiatives. Together, we can construct a fair and representative electoral system.”