DeKALB – DeKalb County voters will be asked if they support a Massachusetts-based group’s plan for eradicating corruption and overhauling campaign finance laws.
It’s the only countywide referendum on the ballot in the April 7 election. The DeKalb County Board voted in December to put the nonbinding referendum on the ballot at the request of the Rockford chapter of Represent.Us.
Represent.Us, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, is working to change politics by passing local referendums supporting the organization’s Anti-Corruption Act, which it views as model “legislation that sets a standard for city, state and federal laws that prevent money from corrupting American government,” according to the organization’s website represent.us.
The act would “stop political bribery by overhauling lobbying and ethics laws,” “end secret money by increasing dramatically transparency” and “give every voter a voice by creating citizen-funded elections,” according to the website. Represent.Us uses the “ballot initiative process to bypass local legislatures” to enact legislation and raise awareness, the website said.
A similar nonbinding referendum passed in Genoa Township in November 2014. Other referendums have been approved by voters in some parts of Massachusetts and in Tallahassee, Florida, said Mansur Gidfar, communications director for Represent.Us.
The County Board didn’t take a position on the referendum question, but decided to pass it along to voters on the ballot, County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. said. He said the referendum wouldn’t change any county policies or procedures.
“The board doesn’t typically want to get into a lot of nonbinding referendums and resolutions, but reviews them as they come up on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
He emphasized that the board didn’t have a position on the group’s referendum.
Shannon Wilde, a Genoa resident who volunteers with the Rockford chapter of Represent.Us, said the goal of the local referendum is to get big money out of politics. She said she also hopes it will increase awareness about the organization’s efforts.
“The point of the question is to gauge support and raise awareness,” Wilde said.
Represent.Us Rockford will host a forum on the advisory referendum question at 6 p.m. today at the Sycamore Public Library, 103 E. State St., Sycamore.
The question as it will appear on the ballot
LOCAL PROPOSITIONS AND/OR REFERENDA WILL BE HELD IN THE FOLLOWING JURISDICTIONS: DEKALB COUNTY ADVISORY QUESTION
Do you support removing the corrupting influence of money on our political system by prohibiting politicians from taking campaign money from industries they regulate; increasing transparency for campaign funding; empowers all voters through a tax rebate voucher to contribute to the candidates they support; prohibiting representatives and senior staff from all lobbying activity for five years once they leave office; and placing limits on superPACs?