Voters Decide To Reduce RI County Board, But Can It Be Done? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Voters Decide To Reduce RI County Board, But Can It Be Done?


How many is too many? Rock Island County voters say 25 crosses the line, at least when it comes to board members. Voters overwhelmingly agreed to reduce the county board on election day. They were asked this question: "Shall Rock Island county elect 15 board members from three districts with five members each? "

Meaning, essentially the board would go from 25 board members to 15. More than 70 percent of voter's said yes. However, here's the catch, even though this is what the people want, actually getting it could take a very long time.

 "We all need to listen to the will of the people and the people clearly spoke that they want the board to be 15 members and I'm going to do everything I can do to make that happen," said Drue Mielke, the newly elected District 22 board member.

Mielke says he's not surprised Rock Island county residents voted to shrink the board. He says it will save taxpayer's money and make the board more efficient. However, making it happen may be easier said than done.

"Unfortunately what has transpired now is an advisory referendum," said Don Johnston, returning District 11 board member.

Johnston says while it's helpful to know what the people want, the board size can normally only be changed during a census and that is in another eight years.

 "It's only in the census years that you can change the structure of the board," he said.

While that's usually the case , KWQC looked into whether the board size could be changed at a different time. We found there is no rule saying it can't be done. It's uncharted territory officials with the State Board of Elections say would most likely require a city ordinance and the okay from a lawyer. Of course the board would also have to agree and work together, something both Johnston and Mielke say they are prepared to do.

"If it was possible to do it right now, I would suggest that we do it certainly," Johnston said.

 "I am really pumped up about working with all the people on the board in good relation. I think we are going to get support to reduce the board," Mielke said.

In April there will be another referendum asking voters if there should be one person from every district on the board. That question would contradict the most recent one, which would only have people from three districts.

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