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Homewood voters reject home rule; Flossmoor OKs sales tax hike

Home rule won’t be coming to Homewood. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the designation. Flossmoor voters, however, gave strong support to a one-cent sales tax.

Home rule won’t be coming to Homewood.
Voters in the village Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a major change in Homewood’s governing structure that would have increased powers on the municipal level, including additional authority to tax,
  Jen Sjoblom checks her
  phone to see a high
  number of votes against
  home rule in Homewood.
  “It’s not a revenue issue,
  it’s a spending issue,” she
(Photos by Mary 
  Compton/H-F Chronicle)

With 17 of 19 Homewood precincts reporting, the home rule initiative was behind by a vote of 3,776 to 1,613. About 70 percent of voters rejected home rule.

Homewood resident Jen Sjoblom, an opponent of the initiative, said Tuesday that the community rose up against home rule.
“We had a lot of support, an unprecedented amount of yard signs that went out. The requests were just never ending,” Sjoblom said. “We didn’t want to be overconfident, but (we expected this).”
Sjoblom was active with the Vote No Home Rule for Homewood group.
“People made their voices heard,” she said. “We’re just really glad they volunteered, stepped to the plate and, most importantly, they went out and voted.”
  Flossmoor resident George
  Scully (far right)  gives the
  vote totals to Flossmoor
  Mayor Paul Braun, left, 
  and Don Grasse. 


In Flossmoor, it was a different story, with voters approving a 1 percent sales tax requested by the village board to help shore up municipal finances. With all nine precincts reporting, the sales tax was approved by a vote of 1,941 to 1,190. About 62 percent of Flossmoor voters opted for the sales tax increase, which is expected to raise an additional $550,000 a year for the village budget.

Homewood village officials proposed home rule not as a way to raise more money for the municipality but as a mechanism that would allow the village to better regulate rental homes in the community. They also argued that approving home rule would give the village more leeway in the hiring and retention of police officers and fire officers, since Homewood would be freed from cumbersome state regulations.
The village board approved safeguards to insure property tax increases would continue to adhere to non-home rule limits and included in the home rule proposal a 0.25 percent increase in the local sales tax that would be completely turned over to other taxing districts — the two local grade school districts, Homewood-Flossmoor High School, the H-F Park District and the Homewood Public Library. About $1 million would have been raised through the sales tax hike, with $700,000 of that amount going to Homewood School District 153.
However, the home rule initiative ran into organized resistance with opponents saying that it would lead to higher village taxes. Opponents held at least one rally against home rule, posted signs against the initiative and had help from a state realtors group that sent out mailings and did robocalls in opposition to the village’s request.
“I’m insanely proud of the work the volunteers of our committee put into this race,” Homewood Citizens for Home Rule Chair Steve Buchtel said as the votes came in Tuesday. “It’s not the outcome that we expected or wanted but there’s enough turnout in support of home rule that shows that villages across Illinois are going to continue to fight for self-determination.”
In Flossmoor, there was no organized opposition to the sales tax increase. The village board hosted two informational meetings on the sales tax and heard generally positive comments about the proposal. 

The same realtors group that opposed home rule in Homewood backed the sales tax initiative in Flossmoor. Village officials argued that the bulk of new sales tax revenues would come from the town’s Meijer store, where more than 90 percent of shoppers reside outside the village.

Tuesday was also primary day in Illinois, with races for gubernatorial candidates, members of Congress, Cook County officials, state legislators, judgeships and township committeemen.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, who represents the H-F area, easily won the nomination for another term over Marcus Lewis. With 92 percent of the votes counted, Republican David Merkle held a slight lead over Patrick Harmon, with John Morrow trailing.
Incumbent Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle won the Democratic nomination over Bob Fioretti. In the county assessor’s race, incumbent Joseph Berrios fell to Frederick “Fritz” Kaegi, with Andrea Railia coming in third. No Republicans ran in either of those races.
In the 5th County Board District, which includes Flossmoor, incumbent Commissioner Deborah Sims easily won the Democratic nomination. In the 6th District, which includes Homewood, Donna Miller had a slight lead over Patricia Joan Murphy with 189 of 212 precincts counted, with Lou Presta trailing. No Republicans ran in either of those races.
The state representatives who represent Homewood and Flossmoor, Will Davis and Anthony DeLuca, were unopposed for the Democratic nomination to those legislative posts. No Republicans ran in either of those races.
Two vacancies were on the Democratic ballot for the 15th Subcircuit of the Cook County court system, which includes Flossmoor. Michael Barrett defeated Ashonta Rice-Akiwowo for the nomination to the Scully vacancy. Scott McKenna was leading Anthony Swanagan for the nomination to the Zelezinski vacancy.
Karla Marie Fiaoni was the sole Republican running for the nomination to Zelezinski vacancy. 
Six vacancies were on the Democratic ballot for the 2nd Judicial Subcircuit, which includes Homewood. Tiana Ellis Blakely defeated Frederick Bates for the nomination to the Lampkin vacancy. Adrienne Elaine Davis defeated William Laws (Laws vacancy). Toya Harvey defeated Tiesha Smith (Rhodes vacancy). Ieshia Gray was leading Travis Richardson (J. Turner vacancy). Debra Seaton defeated Sheree Henry and Ubi O’Neal (Willis vacancy). Arthur Willis defeated Devlin Schoop (V. Turner vacancy). No Republicans ran in any of these races.     

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