State Senator Sandack Speaks on Home Rule at Clarendon Hills Meeting
The former mayor of Downers Grove said home rule was "by and large" used responsibly in his hometown, but did not advocate for or against it in Clarendon Hills.
Before the voices of Clarendon Hills staff, elected officials and community members filled the Prospect School gym Wednesday night at the third home rule informational meeting, a notable voice from outside the village was heard.
State Senator Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) made a brief birthday visit to Clarendon Hills to talk about his experience with home rule as a former mayor and village trustee of Downers Grove, which has had home rule since the early 1970s because of its size and maintained it after a 2005 referendum to rescind the powers was unsuccessful.
Sandack said he was speaking as a private citizen who wasn’t advocating for or against home rule in Clarendon Hills.
“It can be used in a good way, in a productive way that benefits the community,” Sandack said of home rule, “and of course there are instances where it’s abused and misapplied. It’s really about how the power is utilized.”
Though he said he wasn’t speaking in his capacity as state senator, Sandack spoke quite a bit about his downstate workplace and how state government should be a factor in residents’ decisions.
“The State of Illinois is in a little bit of a fiscal calamity,” Sandack said. “Some think we’re in a financial death-spiral.”
The senator said he thinks it’s likely the state will be sending back less and less money to municipalities due to big obligations such as Medicaid and pensions. Villages like Clarendon Hills, Sandack said, will be forced to fend for themselves more and home rule could provide tools to do so.
“I’m a proponent of local control; I’m a proponent of government near and close to you,” Sandack said.
In Downers Grove, where Sandack served as a trustee when the aforementioned referendum to rescind home rule was on the ballot, the senator thinks home rule has “by and large” been utilized judiciously by the village. There, the public gets three weeks’ notice before a vote on any new regulation that stems from home rule powers. Sandack called it a “super-notice.”
“If we were going to exercise a home rule power, we did things above and beyond when it came to notice,” he said.
Ultimately, Sandack said, the residents of Clarendon Hills have to decide whether home rule is right for their village.
“Go through your deliberations prudently; listen carefully; question entirely,” he said. “Whether home rule fits for Clarendon Hills is for … every voter to decide.”