Supporters and opponents of home rule in Homewood disagreed on what the results of Tuesday’s referendum said about the village. Opponents said safeguards against potential abuse were not strong enough. Proponents noted the influence of outside groups in the campaign.
Supporters and opponents of home rule in Homewood disagreed on what the results of Tuesday’s referendum said about the village.
However, one thing was crystal clear as vote totals for the home rule referendum were reported. The Homewood village board’s request for home rule power had gone down in an overwhelming defeat.
Homewood resident Jennifer Sjoblom, a realtor with Baird & Warner, banquet manager at Idlewild Country Club and the president of the Homewood Area Chamber of Commerce, was active with the Vote No Home Rule for Homewood group. She was also a candidate for trustee in 2016.
She said three ordinances passed by the board earlier this year that would’ve limited its powers, had the referendum passed, weren’t enough.
“If home rule had passed today, our current board could’ve tomorrow, or at the next board meeting, overturned those ordinances,” Sjoblom said. “I think people understand that there is no guarantee.”
The referendum failed, with 70 percent of voters against with 19 of 19 precincts reporting. The final tally was 1,842 votes in favor of home rule, 4,321 votes against.
Sjoblom said Vote No Home Rule for Homewood wasn’t campaigning against the board.
“Our elected officials currently will not always be the elected officials in office,” she said. “There’s a lot of trust, currently. They’re well-liked within our community. But they will not always be the ones on the board.”
A realtors group, REALTORS in Opposition to Home Rule based in Tinley Park, did robocalls a few days before the election and sent numerous mailings to residents a month before the vote that focused on the possibility of tax increases.
Steve Buchtel, the chair for Homewood Citizens for Home Rule, said outside influence played a role in the results.
“We felt that volunteer hours would beat realtor dollars in this race,” Buchtel said. “All we had was shoe leather and energy. We were literally on a shoestring budget.”
A home rule ordinance was rejected by Homewood voters in 2004, with about 69 percent (3,708 to 1,667) against it.
“There were still a lot of people feeling the same way,” Sjoblom said.
Home rule supporters said they believe a general opposition to government outweighed the points their side was making.
“It can be hard to argue that local people can make local decisions for the people that improve life here,” Buchtel said. “We were arguing that this community does have faith in us, in the people who we vote on our village board. I think the outside money was able to leverage that distrust in Springfield, the distrust in Cook County, to great effect.”
“I don’t think it’s a Homewood issue. I think it’s a state and national issue,” said Priscilla Cordero, who supported home rule. “Unfortunately, it reflects on Homewood.”