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Town’s council system subject of petition drive

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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NORMAL (25 News Now) - Voters in the Town of Normal may see a referendum on the November ballot. It depends if petitioners can get enough signatures to change from at-large representation to a district system on the town council.

There are six council members representing roughly 54,000 residents in Normal and it’s always been that way.

“No one can convince me that this is just a homogeneous population and that I know what people need that live in other areas of town,” said resident Cara McMorris.

A map shows the current council members all live in the northern and southern ends of town.

“I thought we need more representation. We need to make sure everyone has a voice,” said McMorris.

A 20-year-resident, McMorris says she has help collecting signatures, trying to get the question on November’s ballot. The question asks voters, “Shall the town be divided into six districts with one trustee elected from each district?”

There have been attempts to put this question on the ballot more than 20 years ago, but those efforts failed.

“We don’t know who might want to run, we don’t know what we haven’t heard,” said McMorris.

While more than 750 people have signed the petition, 3,000 in total are needed by August 1.

“I’m really confident it will get on the ballot,” said McMorris.

Town Council member Kathleen Lorenz says it seems like a good idea in theory, but not in a town like Normal.

“Does it make sense from the size of our community? Does it make sense from a convenience of being able to ask six or seven council members? Does it make sense from an economic development point of view?” she asked.

Lorenz says she’s knowledgeable of all the neighborhoods, not just her own.

“I think people want a government that is functional and I think breaking us up into small fiefdoms would sow more disfunction and discontent,” said Lorenz.

Both agree it’s up to the people through the petition and possibly at the ballot box.

“We’ll see what happens,” said McMorris.

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