Podgorski sides with Daley in call for referendum to reduce Chicago City Council size
A call by William M. "Bill" Daley, a Democratic candidate for mayor of Chicago, for a citywide referendum to let voters decide whether to reduce the City Council's aldermen from 50 aldermen to 15 has a thumbs-up from a Northside Republican party leader.
"I think the proposal is an excellent idea," Matt Podgorski, Northwest Side GOP Club president, said during a recent Chicago City Wire interview. "Although it will not solve all or most of Chicago's problems, it is definitely a positive move."
The power of individual aldermen would not be diluted should Chicago voters actually decide to reduce City Council, Podgorski said.
"Consolidating the number of aldermanic seats would actually increase the power of the City Council and decrease the power of the mayor," he said. "Any time you can reduce the number of elected officials and the amount of staff and spending that goes along with it, that is a good thing."
Earlier this week Daley, who was a White House chief of staff during the Clinton and Obama administrations, proposed the November 2020 referendum, saying the number of aldermen in the time of his father, late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, and brother, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, is not working now.
"We've seen too many city scandals in Chicago, including the most recent ones, and we would not be surprised if there’s more coming," Bill Daley was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times. "With each new scandal, everyone pays lip service to reform. But the system stays the same. I believe strongly that it's time for fundamental change."
Bill Daley's brother John P. Daley is the current 11th Ward alderman.
Bill Daley also noted that during his father's and brother's times as mayor, city services were delivered entirely through each ward's aldermen, "and they were essentially like mini-mayors of their wards."
Services are no longer delivered via alderman in Chicago and it is time for ward boundaries to be redrawn to reflect that reality, Bill Daley said.
"If we do a referendum, 80,000 signatures by citizens can get it on the ballot," he was quoted in the Sun-Times. "If we get this on the ballot, trust me, it will pass. Let the voters have something to say about it."
While 80,000 would be the number of signatures needed to get the referendum on the ballot, Podgorski told Chicago City Wire that the number of signatures required for an alderman to run as a candidate should not change.
"It would be important that they do not increase the signature requirement for an aldermanic candidate to get on the ballot if this referendum is passed," he said.
Chicago City Wire and Northwest Side GOP hosted a mayoral candidate forum earlier this month.