Megann Horstead | For the Bugle
The mayors of Naperville, Lisle, Woodridge and Warrenville stood united during a Jan. 9 press conference, to address the growing chatter in the community regarding the circulation of annexation petitions.
Petitions were anonymously filed on Jan. 3 in the DuPage Circuit Court to put a referendum question on the ballot to annex Woodridge, Lisle and Warrenville to Naperville.
Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham said it was important for area mayors to clear up any confusion and other feelings stirred among residents in light of the court filing.
“Being here today, it stresses I think something that came through very clearly,” she said. “Right away when this (petition) came forth, each of us joined together and worked together to find answers to some of the questions before us today. Each of the communities that are here represented are independent communities, thriving and that’s the way we want to stay.”
More than 30 residents had signed onto the formal objection to the petitions presented to the DuPage Circuit Court as of Jan. 9.
Lisle Mayor Joe Broda questioned intent behind the petitioner’s effort to collect signatures — to the extent that confusion stirred among residents.
“This petition kind of has a lot of our residents up in arms, ‘what’s going on?” he asked. “ ‘How can this happen? How can the law allow a handful of residents who don’t live in your community, circulate a petition and file it.’ We looked at those petitions, and that’s why they’re being challenged.”
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico agreed.
Chirico said it is his belief that circulating annexation petitions was more a “political stunt” than it was a legitimate effort to serve the greater good of the people.
Broda refuted the idea that efforts to approve referendum questions would be successful.
“Of the petitions that were filed, a majority of those petitions are names that don’t match addresses in the village of Lisle,” he said. “We’re also looking at the possibility of some fraud of signatures, of how they were solicited.”
To address concerns about taxpayer money spent to stop the annexation questions from appearing on the ballot, Chirico said the more significant expense would be time wasted.
“If this indeed got on the ballot, then there would significant expense to educate the public as to what was going on,” he said. “All of which could be fruitless from our perspective.”
The petitions circulating included 51 signatures for Woodridge, 219 for Lisle and 81 for Warrenville.
In order for the referendum questions to pass review of validity, the petitioner would need 230 Woodridge signatures, 182 Lisle signatures and 178 Warrenville signatures.
There wasn’t an annexation petition circulating in Naperville to collect signatures. To this, Chirico said it’s odd how the city is now tasked with the idea of placing an annexation referendum question on the April election ballot.
“I think it is a flawed law that we’ll have to look at,” he said. “Once this is over, I hope that our legislators will look at that—and I suspect they will.”
The last day to certify a referendum question for the April 4 ballot is Jan. 26.
The hope, according to Chirico, is that these neighboring communities can continue thrive as the unique towns they all identify as.
“We all have, as Mayor (Joe) Broda mentioned, very unique qualities that make this region a very, very enjoyable place to live and to raise their families,” he said. “We want to certainly protect that, preserve that for many, many years to come