Elmhurst officials can prohibit local leaders from serving on more than one elected board at the same time if residents support the idea at the polls, according to a legal opinion presented to a City Council committee Monday.
The opinion came after Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni held a press conference to announce his change in intentions, saying he will resign as mayor if he wins a seat on the DuPage County Board in November.
“That distraction is causing a cost to the city,” he said. “It’s a distraction, and we’ve got bigger issues to solve.”
The topic of holding more than one elected office has been an issue in recent months. Earlier this year, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin issued an opinion stating that DuPage County board members should not hold an elected office on another governmental body with contractual obligations to the County Board. State legislation that would have specified that mayors can also serve as county board members was proposed in the Illinois Senate, but did not move forward.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is expected today to introduce an advisory ballot question for the November ballot asking voters if they believe state law should allow a person to hold two or more elected offices at the same time.
DiCianni, whose mayoral term is up in 2013, is vying for a District 2 post on the country board. Village President Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge also is a candidate for DuPage County Board and has said he intends to hold both posts if elected.
Elmhurst’s Finance Committee on Monday reviewed a legal opinion that stated the City Council can adopt an ordinance to prohibit elected officials from holding more than one office at a time if it first holds a referendum on the question.
The city had contracted with attorney Jack Siegel to provide an opinion on what options it has to prevent its elected officials from holding dual offices.
Committee members said Monday that they want to put the question on the November or April ballot.
Ald. Mark Mulliner, who has favored putting the question to voters, said DiCianni’s decision not to continue as mayor if he wins the county board seat does not change the need to have a law prohibiting it on the books in Elmhurst.
“There’s a loophole in the law,” he said. “This doesn’t just relate to one person.”
DiCianni said his decision to step down as mayor if he wins the county post was not influenced by the possibility of a countywide referendum.
“This (DuPage County) referendum just came to my attention recently –this afternoon,” he said.
Paula McGowen of Glen Ellyn, who was at the Elmhurst finance committee Monday, said she has been collecting signatures on petitions to get the countywide referendum on the November ballot.
She said she thinks it’s impossible for a mayor or village president to hold a county office at the same time, and do a good job at both.
“It’s hard to do a good job if you’re going to be all over the place,” she said.
DiCianni previously vowed to return his $6,000 annual mayoral stipend to the city if he is elected to the county post. The county board post pays $50,000.