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Local Election

Batavia retains home rule status

Voters overwhelmingly reject ballot initiative

BATAVIA – Voters rejected a proposal to strip the city of Batavia of its home-rule powers by an overwhelming margin in Tuesday’s balloting.

With all 22 precincts reporting, the vote was 9,159 against revoking the city’s home-rule status, with 2,959 in favor of the proposal.

Aldermen found validation in the result, with slightly more than 72 percent of voters deciding that the city should retain its home-rule status.

“I think it’s a vote of confidence for the Batavia City Council,” 2nd Ward Alderman Alan Wolff said.

Jim Fahrenbach, leader of a citizen campaign to retain home-rule for the city, said the key was simply to provide voters with the facts.

The city automatically gained home-rule powers in 2009, when Batavia’s population reached 25,000. Home-rule communities in Illinois possess additional taxing and bonding power, without having to resort to public referendum questions.

“The referendum demonstrates that the citizens are generally happy with how the city is being run,” 4th Ward Alderman Susan Stark said.

“This was a referendum on the City Council, and it speaks for itself,” Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said.

“It was an expression of faith by the voters in the City Council,” Mayor Jeff Schielke said.

Sylvia Keppel, Yvonne Dinwiddie and Carl Dinwiddie filed the petition to place the ballot question before Batavia voters. It asked: “Shall the city of Batavia cease to be a home-rule unit?”

“We gave the people a chance to vote on it and the majority decided and so be it,” Yvonne Dinwiddie said.

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