DANVILLE – Voters overwhelmingly voted to keep the city’s form of government the same and continue to elect a resident as a full-time mayor.
Tuesday's referendum asking “Shall the City of Danville, Illinois adopt the managerial form of municipal government and continue to elect aldermen from wards?” failed to receive a majority vote.
The “No” votes totaled 4,592, or 58.55 percent, and the “Yes” votes totaled 3,251, or 41.45 percent.
Whether the referendum passed or failed, Danville still will have a new mayor next year. Mayor Scott Eisenhauer left his term six months early to take a position with the Village of Rantoul. Acting Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. will serve in the seat until May.
The Committee to Support Adoption of City Manager Government for Danville, IL, also calling itself Moving Danville Forward, spent the better part of this year having public meetings and encouraging people to look outside the community for a trained, professional city manager to better address the city’s financial and other challenges.
After the numbers came in, Committee Chairman Pat O’Shaughnessy said, “We are disappointed but respect the democratic process which allows the people to decide these issues. We feel the educational process has begun in Danville and feel there has been change and those changes will be seen in the community in the years to come.
“People are more aware of the financial issues facing our great community and will expect real answers, real solutions and real transparency from their leaders. That is positive for our city,” O’Shaughnessy said.
Williams said in response to the vote, “(residents) spoke loud and clear.”
He said they rejected the change and being told how the government should be run and they wanted "to retain their voice.”
Ward 1 Alderwoman Brenda Brown with the Citizens Against Change of the City of Danville Local Form of Government Committee previously said to reverse the lawsuit, that the seven men and plaintiffs worked hard for, would be wrong.
Having a city manager would have taken the city backward, she said.
Brown said since the 1987 change in how citizens can run for public office, from commissioner to aldermen, nearly 60 non-African-Americans compared to 11 African-Americans and one Hispanic resident have benefited from the lawsuit in order to serve as aldermen and alderwomen.
She said she believes a mayor, council form of government works best for Danville to offer more fair representation for the entire community.
With the referendum failing, the city will move on to mayor, treasurer and aldermen candidate election filings the week of Thanksgiving and spring 2019 elections.