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Plainfield trustees weigh in on instituting term limits

Outgoing Plainfield Trustee Ed O’Rourke stated his case at Monday’s Special Meeting and Committee of the Whole Workshop of the Plainfield Village Board of Trustees, urging his peers to consider term limits.

O’Rourke challenged an opinion of Trustee Brian Wojowski, in which he questioned if the system failed the voters.

“Is it broke in your opinion?” Wojowski asked.

O’Rourke took time to explain.

“My opinion has always been that while things are working well, things can always work better,” he said. “My thought was let’s have a discussion to see maybe if there’s something that we can tweak to improve the system.”

After the April 2 election, O’Rourke and Bill Lamb are leaving the board. Wojowski will remain on the board and is to be joined by newcomers Harry Benton and Kevin Calkins, according to unofficial results.

“It’s not broke,” Wojowski said, referring to the system. “The voters spoke. Although it is a small percentage of the population, they did come out.”

However, Wojowski acknowledged there may be reasons to support term limits in government.

“I think there are dangers in that, too,” he said.

For example, the idea of imposing a term limit could prevent an incumbent candidate from running, thereby leaving the village president to make an appointment to fill a vacancy, if no one decides to run for office, Wojowski said.

“Then, the argument we use is the mayor is too powerful because he’s stacking the board with appointments,” Wojowski said.

Several trustees questioned O’Rourke’s reasoning for leading a discussion regarding term limits in Plainfield government.

Trustee Cally Larson said that because nobody is lining their pockets with money or gaining pensions by serving the village of Plainfield, she doesn’t understand the argument for wanting term limits in local municipal government.

O’Rourke tried to explain, acknowledging that money is not the main factor that motivates people to run for the village board.

“I think part of the reason some people don’t come out, or some people don’t throw their hat in, is because they know that they’re running against incumbents,” he said. “They think that’s a lot higher challenge, whereas if that term is up after 12 years, they might think, ‘Yeah, I got a better chance. I am going to put my name in the hat this time.’”

Several trustees said they are not in favor of imposing term limits in Plainfield government.

“I think there are some benefits, but obviously I am the minority this time,” O’Rourke said.

Trustees also approved a professional services agreement with Tai, Ginsberg, and Associates. The village will pay a rate increase of $500 per month, and the monthly retainer fee will thereby amount to $8,000 plus expenses.

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