By Bob Uphues
In the most lopsided local contest of the day, Riverside voters made clear that they're for limiting the village's elected trustees and president to no more than three consecutive terms.
With seven of eight precincts reporting on March 17, term-limit supporters garnered 84.6 percent of the vote compared to 15.4 percent against.
The result, per the question on the ballot, is prospective, meaning the term limits will begin with the next municipal election – for president and three trustees – in spring of 2021.
Putting the question on the ballot was not a universally popular move among former and present members of the village board. Trustees initially voted to place a term-limit question on the ballot in the spring of 2019, after three new trustees were elected but before they were seated.
The 4-2 vote included three yes votes from trustees leaving the village board. The question passed at the time would have been retroactive, meaning it would have applied to people who were already serving their second terms on the board, including Trustee Doug Pollock and President Ben Sells. They would have had a maximum of one more term in those offices had that question succeeded.
Pollock voted against that question, while Sells' vote wasn't needed to break a tie. Sells, however, opposed term limits as a concept.
Legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly last summer decreed that any term-limit questions on future ballots had to be prospective, not retroactive. That action required a new term-limit question to be placed on the ballot in Riverside.
Late in 2019, trustees – three of them newly elected that spring – voted on a prospective question limiting terms to three consecutively. The trustees' vote deadlocked at 3-3.
While Sells opposed term limits, he said he would honor the action of the prior board, which put a question on the ballot, and he voted in favor.
The new limit means Sells could, if he wished to and if voters concurred, serve three more consecutive terms on top of the two he already has. Sells has already ruled out such a thought, but it's not clear whether he might be up for one more attempt at the president's chair.