New bills would allow Chicagoans to recall mayor

New bills would allow Chicagoans to recall mayor

Lawmakers in Springfield have introduced a pair of bills that would provide a mechanism for Chicagoans to recall their mayor.

Two bills recently introduced in the General Assembly would give Chicago residents a mechanism for recalling the city mayor.

House Bills 194 and 843 would allow Chicagoans to prompt a mayoral recall election by collecting petition signatures above a certain threshold. HB 194 would require petition signatures amounting to at least 15 percent of the total votes cast in the preceding election, with at least 50 signatures from each ward. HB 843 would only require a threshold of 10 percent of votes cast in the last election.

Under HB 194, residents would first need to file an affidavit notifying the city’s board of election commissioners of the recall petition, with signatures from at least two aldermen. After all petition requirements have been met, the city would hold a special recall election. In the event that voters recall the mayor, the vice mayor would serve as interim mayor until a new mayoral election takes place as provided under the bill. Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward, has served as vice mayor since 2015.

HB 843, also known as the Laquan McDonald Act, would go further, additionally providing a mechanism to recall Chicago aldermen and the Cook County state’s attorney. To prompt a special recall election for an alderman, HB 843 would require that petition signatures amount to at least 10 percent of the total votes the alderman received in the preceding election. To recall the Cook County state’s attorney, the threshold would be equivalent to 5 percent of his or her total vote in the last election.

This is not the first time state lawmakers have sought to give Chicagoans the authority to recall their mayor. In December 2015, lawmakers introduced an earlier version of HB 194 with bipartisan support, following the court-ordered release of the Laquan McDonald dashcam footage, which prompted calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.

In November 2010, Illinoisans approved an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that gave voters a mechanism to recall the governor by referendum. Prior to the adoption of that amendment, only state lawmakers could remove the governor from office, as they did in January 2009 with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Lawmakers in Springfield now have the opportunity to decide whether Chicagoans should possess a similar method of recourse against corruption at the local level.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!