Can one person hold two elected offices at the same time within the same municipality? In Cook County, the practice isn’t rampant, but it’s also not unheard of.
So, Stephen Mazur, a member of the Brookfield-Lyons School District 103 board, has decided to run simultaneously in April as a candidate for the District 103 board and as Lyons village trustee.
In District 103, there’s certainly a precedent. Back in 2001, Henry Kuczek briefly served as both a District 103 board member and Lyons village trustee. Lyons Village President Marie Vachata for a time also held school board and municipal offices simultaneously.
But after Mazur filed petitions to run for both offices in April, District 103 officials have sought a definitive answer to whether holding two possibly conflicting offices is appropriate. Mazur says it is. The school district thinks otherwise.
Meanwhile, in 1985, Illinois Attorney General Neil Hartigan weighed in on just this matter. His verdict?
Holding the offices of city council member and school board member were incompatible. However, Hartigan also noted that “there is no statutory provision prohibiting one person from holding the offices of school board member and city council member.”
Despite the lack of a specific statute, Hartigan laid out the case for the incompatibility of holding the two office simultaneously. For example, municipalities and school districts sometimes enter into contracts with one another, may be involved in the sale of property and may enter into revenue sharing agreements.
“If an individual were to serve as both a city council member and a school board member … he or she would be required to protect and represent the interests of both the city and the school district,” Hartigan wrote. “It is clear that a person cannot represent the interests of both governmental units when these units contract with each other.
“Therefore, because one who holds the offices of school board member and city council member cannot, in every instance, fully and faithfully discharge the duties of both offices, it is my opinion that the offices are incompatible.”
Yet, since 1985 that identical situation has occurred in both District 103 and other places. At the present time, for example, Patricia Fortunato is both a Berwyn alderman and a member of the Morton High School board.
It appears likely that those situations came about because no one specifically lodged a complaint. Legal challenges can be expensive, so it is unlikely that private citizen would file suit against the officer holder.
The Cook County State’s Attorney could also file suit, but Public Information Officer Tom Stanton said that the state’s attorney would first have to receive a complaint from a third party before proceeding.