MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) — The Mahomet community wanted one question on their next ballot. Should members of the Sangamon Valley Public Water District – the board responsible for setting the cost of water in town – be elected? So they started sharing a petition – and more than 200 people signed it.
That’s twice as many as they needed.
“Once we filed the petition, the duties under the statute is for the board to certify with the county clerk,” Jim Matinkus, the attorney representing the petitioners said. “And that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
The board chairman, Meghan Hennesey, sat on the petition for more than a month. Hennesey did not respond to several requests for comment Thursday.
“If it wasn’t filed, it would take away the rights given to the electors of that district by statute, it would deprive them of their constitutional right to have this considered and determined whether or not to have this particular position, elected or appointed to you,” Matinkus said.
The petitioners’ lawyer contacted Hennesey for the first time April 7th.
On Thursday, April 14th, Hennesey replied to the attornies, saying “the district plans to turn in the petitions on monday.”
That didn’t happen.
Thursday, April 21st was the last day to turn in the petition to get it on the June 28th ballot. As a last ditch effort, the petitioners sued, and hennesey was ordered to appear in court.
“It’s really an order of mandamus is a very unusual remedy,” Matinkus said. “And it’s based upon the statute or something that says this is not discretionary. It’s a mandatory obligation that a public official has. And in this case, we pointed out that the statute at issue is mandatory.”
A couple hours before having to appear in court Hennesy officially filed the petition, avoiding any continued court appearances.
If Mahomet voters decide they want the board to be elected – every trustee position would then be on the next ballot. The board was founded in the sixties and trustees have been appointed ever since.