Should One Person Hold Two Elected Offices? LWV Presents Findings

heidi-keenan-lwvpfa

Attorney Heidi Keenan discusses Illinois Case Law with the League of Women Voters Sunday. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Should a person be permitted to hold two public offices at the same time? The League of Women Voters of the Park Forest Area (LWVPFA) presented their findings of a year-long study of this question to the public Sunday in the Library. The presentation was geared toward members of the LWVPFA to aide their board in forming policy for the organization.

Many members did express their concerns during the meeting.

The study committee was chaired by Barbara Sturges and consisted of School District 227 Board President Tony Brunson, Attorney Heidi Keenan, Meg Maselli and LaVerne Williams.

The scope of the project was to study what public offices can appropriately be held by an individual simultaneously and what public offices, if any, are not appropriate to be held simultaneously, with an emphasis on public offices represented by the taxing bodies shown on a LWVPFA member’s real estate tax bill.

The committee looked at a number of specific concerns including what public offices, if any, Illinois law prohibits from being held simultaneously, what public offices are permitted to be held simultaneously, and what public offices the Attorney General and/or Illinois Courts found to be incompatible.

The committee members acknowledged that the subject is complicated and somewhat controversial.

According to the committee’s report, opinions of the Attorney General have found the following pairs of public offices to be incompatible:

  1. City Council Member and School Board Member
  2. City Plan Commissioner and Township Trustee
  3. Community College Board Trustee and county Board Member
  4. County Board Member and Township Trustee (in countries greater than 100,000)
  5. County Board Member and School Board Member
  6. County Executive and Township Supervisor
  7. Deputy Assessor and Township Supervisor
  8. Deputy Supervisor of Assessments and Township Assessor
  9. Multi-Township Assessor and Village Trustee
  10. County Board Member and Mayor or Village President

City Council Member would be the equivalent of a member of the Village Board in Park Forest.

The report also cited opinion letters by the Attorney General which determined the following pairs do not present potential conflicts in duties and therefore are NOT incompatible:

  1. City Library Board Trustee and City Treasurer
  2. Community College Board Trustee and General Assembly Member
  3. County Board Member and County Board Chairman elected at-large
  4. Library Board Trustee and School Board Member
  5. State Representative and Township Supervisor

During her presentation to the members, Attorney Heidi Keenan said while someone may win a seat on two conflicting boards, removing them from office can be a problem, "The only legal remedy is an In Quo Warranto suit. Those suits only be brought by the States Attorney General or the attorney of the county."

Keenan did add, however, that being sworn into the second position constitutes a de facto resignation from the first position.

Members agreed in general to the following recommendations for the LWFPFA board to consider, although there was much discussion focusing on specifics:

  1. The LWVPFA supports the concept that an individual should not simultaneously hold public offices which have been determined to be incompatible either by a prohibition in written law or under the common law doctrine of incompatibility.
  2. If the LWVPFA suspects an incompatibility of public offices as evidenced by an apparent conflict in duties between two offices held by one individual where both offices are in governmental units covered by the same real estate tax bill, the LWVPFA should inquire if the Illinois Attorney General has issued an opinion as to the compatibility of the offices?
  3. The LWVPFA should attempt to inform the public when an individual has been sworn into an additional public office while already holding an office in a governmental unity covered by the same real estate tax bill if there is:
    1. A statute prohibiting an individual from holding both public offices
    2. An Attorney General’s opinion that the two public offices are incompatible
    3. A potential conflict of duties between the two public offices
  4. Tthe LWVPFA should advise or inform that the original board declare a vacancy when an individual holding public office on that board is sworn in to an additional office in another governmental unit covered by the same real estate tax bill if there is:
    1. A statute prohibiting an individual from holding both public offices
    2. An Attorney General’s opinion that the two public offices are incompatible
    3. A potential conflict of duties between the two public offices
  5. The LWVPFA supports the enactment of a law that would prohibit an individual from serving simultaneously on a school board and a municipal board in municipalities with at least 2,500 people
  6. The LWVPFA should support the enactment of any other laws that would prohibit an individual from serving simultaneously in two specified public offices if those offices are determined to be incompatible by some authority either now or in the future?

These consensus statements now go the the LWVPFA board for discussion. The board will decide on which items will become policy for the chapter.