Could term limits be tossed in Des Plaines? Voters may be asked to decide in November
As if the November election weren't contentious enough, Des Plaines voters could be asked to decide whether to end term limits for local elected officials.
The city council on Monday will discuss whether to add that proposal to the Nov. 8 ballot.
Des Plaines' mayor, aldermen and city clerk have been held to two consecutive terms since voters approved limits in 1998.
The limits don't preclude a two-term official from running again after a break or from seeking a different elected office.
A possible question for the ballot has been drafted by the city's attorney. If the city council agrees to put the question on the ballot, and if voters approve the change as proposed, city code would be amended to end limits for all 10 elected officials.
First-term Mayor Andrew Goczkowski said he supports eliminating term limits for aldermen and the clerk. But he thinks the mayor should continue to be limited to two terms, and he'll ask aldermen to amend the prospective ballot question.
New perspectives in the big chair could be beneficial, he said.
"Eight years is a long time for a part-time mayor," said Goczkowski, who served two years as the 8th Ward's alderman before becoming mayor last year. "It's not meant to be a career for anybody."
Term limits are rare in the Chicago area. Rolling Meadows has limited elected service since the 1990s; Naperville voters approved term limits in 2010.
Pushes by candidates or residents to create term limits have failed in Arlington Heights, Elk Grove Village and other towns.
The last serious push to eliminate term limits in Des Plaines occurred in 2007. A proposed referendum was struck from the primary ballot that year due to insufficient signatures on the necessary petition.
Term limits haven't kept former city officials from retaking office in Des Plaines.
Fifth Ward Alderman Carla Brookman, who was reelected to a second-straight term in 2021, also served on the council from 1997 to 2009.
Her husband, Jim, held the post for two terms in-between hers.
While noting neither she nor Jim plans to run again, Brookman said she opposes term limits.
"I think term limits take a right away from the people," she said. "People are served when they have aldermen who have experience and historical knowledge."
Brookman doesn't object to letting voters decide the issue again. The community's stance on the issue may have changed, she said.
Monday's council meeting is set for 7 p.m. at city hall, 1420 Miner St. The meeting can be viewed live online at bit.ly/3BVwG7z.