Lisa Stone recall, Buffalo Grove, Illinois (2010)
The Lisa Stone recall is believed to be the first recall in the history of Illinois.
Stone had served 18 months of a four-year term as village trustee when she was recalled.
- Votes to recall Stone: 8,728 (69%)
- Votes to keep Stone: 3,853 (31%)
The Stone recall was supported by:
- Buffalo Grove resident David Wells, a leader in the recall effort.
- Village President Elliott Hartstein,. He said of the successfull recall, "I really think the entire community owes a debt of gratitude to all the people who rolled up their sleeves and said, 'This isn't right. We need to do something about this.' When people talk about democracy, this is what democracy is all about. Recall is giving the citizens an opportunity to have a say. I'm saddened that we even had to have this experience as a community, but I'm ecstatic that people saw there was a problem and did something about it."
- Adam Moodhe, a Buffalo Grove Days commissioner. His wife works for the village.
Motivation for recall
Stone became the target of the recall partly because of her "dogged pursuit of information about the impact" of the Land and Lakes landfill on groundwater. She also "clashed with the village board with increasing intensity, over everything from whether the board was doing enough about the region's heroin problem to whether it had ignored potential dangers at a nearby landfill."
Stone's opponents also objected to the way she conducted herself:
"It wasn't necessarily the issues themselves that caused friction. Stone's opponents would say it was the way she dealt with them _ her absolute refusal to back down or move on any issue, and her practice of dragging village board meetings on for hours and hours as she pushed and pushed. The meetings became near shouting matches at times, even sparking the village president to tell Stone to shut up after repeatedly saying her time to speak was over. Stone said he was simply trying to muzzle her. Nothing got resolved.
Path to the ballot
For the Village of Buffalo Grove to hold a recall election, it had to first enact a recall ordinance.
Once a recall ordinance was put in place, recall supporters collected more than 2,000 signatures to force a vote on the recall.
In mid-September 2009 village trustees presented the village board with a proposal to adopt a recall ordinance. However, the trustees denied that the proposal is related to resident's attempts to recall Trustee Stone. If the proposal is adopted by the village board the ordinance would give voters the right to recall elected municipal officials. "This is not simply directed at one individual. I think there is a frustration among the community that things seem to be taking on an air of incivility and lack of constructiveness that they wish to address," said Jeffrey Berman, who wrote and proposed the ordinance.
Village trustees, however, still needed to iron out the specifics of the ordinance including details such as: when are trustees open to a recall; how many signatures should a recall petition gather and what is that number based on - number of votes in the last election or number of registered voters; and who's in charge of validating the signatures.
The proposed ordinance requires:
- filed notice of intent to recall, notice must be signed by 25% of the number of votes in the last municipal election
- petitions circulated and filed within 90 days
- a majority vote is required to remove an official from office
- vote is subject to appeal before the circuit court
"They are trying to move me out of the way. It's really an incredible situation. It's just a sad situation that that's how politics are. They want to handpick" the board members," said Stone of the recall ordinance. Stone said that although she feels that the recall ordinance comes at a time when she believes there is a discomfort on the board regarding her stands on issues, she does support the concept of a recall provision. In fact, Stone noted that she would "have loved to have co-authored this."
Some argued that the recall ordinance violates the state constitution, state election code and the U.S. Constitution. In an editorial by Rob Sherman, he notes that the manner in which a recall can be placed on the ballot, either via signature petition or enacted the by the village board, may be a violation. According to Sherman the board's ability to enact a recall and place it on the ballot violates the U.S. Constitution's Article I, Section 10 which reads,"No State shall pass any Bill of Attainder." The constitution, he argues, applies to the states as well as local government therefore directly applies to municipalities.
- Daily Herald,"Buffalo Grove debates recall ordinance, but vote will wait," September 22, 2009
- BuffaloGrove-Countryside,"Trustees to mull election-recall proposal," September 21, 2009
- Buffalo Grove Patch, "he Verdict's In — Stone is Out," November 3, 2010
- BuffaloGrove-Countryside,"Buffalo Grove trustees praise recall proposal," September 21, 2009
- Daily Herald, "Buffalo Grove recall vote to make history," October 31, 2010
- Daily Herald, "Buffalo Grove trustee complains village rules not being followed," July 26, 2010
- Daily Herald, "Buffalo Grove puts Stone vote to public," August 10, 2010
- Chicago Now,"Buffalo Grove Recall Ordinance violates US Constitution, IL Constitution, IL Election Code," September 29, 2009
- Daily Herald,"Citizen inquiries sparked Buffalo Grove's recall pursuit," September 20, 2009