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The Battle Of Forest Park

On December 18, a group of local citizens, organized under the political action committee Let Forest Park Vote on Video Gaming, submitted a petition to the Village of Forest Park to place video gaming on the March 2018 ballot.

According to Illinois gaming law, signatures from 25 percent of registered voters are required to put a binding referendum on the ballot which allows citizens to vote on video gambling in their town.

The Cook County Clerk confirmed on Jan. 17 that Let Forest Park Vote had 2,840 valid signatures, or more than 25 percent of registered voters in Forest Park.

History:

In 2013, Forest Park citizens already voted two-to-one against video gambling in a non-binding referendum. Since video gambling was legalized in Illinois in 2012, only the Village of Winfield has passed a binding referendum (in 2012) to keep video gambling out.

In 2016, a citizen group submitted 2,267 valid signatures, which were found to be just below the threshold of 25 percent. The village council voted to approve video gambling in October 2016.

"We are working to give the citizens a vote on video gambling as provided for in the gaming law and as they have repeatedly expressed a desire to do so," said Jordan Kuehn, president of the group.

"We have been stopped by the local election board as well as our elected officials. More people have signed this petition than voted for the last two mayoral candidates combined. The people want to vote."

The 2018 petition was challenged by James Watts, owner of O'Sullivan's Public House in Forest Park. At the Jan. 17 records exam, the Cook County Clerk certified that 3,522 signatures were submitted, 1,256 objections were submitted, and 2,840 signatures were found to be valid, which is a greater percentage than the minimum required threshold of 25 percent of registered voters in Forest Park.

The process continues at 10 a.m. on January 23rd at the motion hearing before the local election board at Village Hall in Forest Park, 517 Desplaines Ave.

Additionally, in order to reach the upcoming March ballot, the group will seek legal action to remove three nuisance referenda questions that were filed by former village commissioner Mark Hosty on November 8, 2016 to clog the ballot.

These nuisance referenda were filed too early and have since expired. According to state law, if more than three questions are submitted for a particular election, public questions in excess of the three may be certified for the next election if such election occurs within one year of the petitions being filed. The village clerk, also a non-elected member of the election board, has already certified these nuisance questions for the March ballot despite being informed on Dec 27 of the clear language of the statute ruling these questions void.

The events leading up to the inception of this petition drive are chronicled by the Forest Park Review in its 2016 Story of the Year.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 22, 2018


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