Appeal from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County. No. 93-MR-182. Honorable Jay M. Hanson, Judge, Presiding.
Present - Honorable Robert D. McLAREN, Justice, Honorable Fred A. Geiger, Justice, Honorable Alfred E. Woodward, Justice
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mclaren
JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court:
Michael D. Richardson, as the intervening plaintiff, appeals the ruling of the circuit court of Rock Island County that a State statute under which a referendum was held in Rock Island County is constitutional. We affirm.
In November 1992, Rock Island County held a referendum in which the voters were asked the following question:
"Shall the County of Rock Island adopt the county executive form of government and elect not to become a home rule unit?"
The language of the referendum was taken from model language provided in 55 ILCS 5/2-5005(b) (West 1992). The voters approved the referendum, and an election was scheduled for November 8, 1994, to elect the county's chief executive officer. The candidates for the position include Democrat Paul Mulcahey, Republican William M. Smith, and third-party candidate Michael D. Richardson.
Mulcahey filed an action for declaratory relief alleging that section 2-5005(b) is unconstitutional in that it conflicts with article 7, sections 6(a) and 6(b) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (1970 Constitution). Following intervention by interested parties, the circuit court accepted briefs and heard oral argument on an expedited schedule. The circuit court ruled that the challenged legislative section was constitutional, and this appeal followed. We granted expedited consideration of this appeal, and we now affirm.
Article 7, sections 6(a) and 6(b) of the 1970 Constitution provide in relevant part:
"(a) A County which has a chief executive officer elected by the electors of the county and any municipality which has a population of more than 25,000 are home rule units. Other municipalities may elect by referendum to become home rule units. * * *
(b) A home rule unit by referendum may elect not to be a home rule unit." Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, §§ 6(a), 6(b).
Subsection (b) of section 2-5005 was added to the Counties Code by the General Assembly in 1985. (Pub. Act 84-189, eff. Aug. 23, 1985 (now codified at 55 ILCS 5/2-5005(b).) It provides in relevant part:
"(b) If the county board adopts a resolution calling for a referendum on the proposal to adopt a county executive form of government and elect not to be a home rule unit within the time provided in the general election law, the county clerk and the county board shall provide for the submission of such proposition to the electors of the county in ...