The Yes votes won in an Orland Park referendum regarding its structure of government. (Photo by Vote Yes Orland Park)

The Yes votes won in an Orland Park referendum regarding its structure of government. (Photo by Vote Yes Orland Park)

Orland Park residents vote to keep manager form of government

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By Jeff Vorva

Close to 10,000 voters weighed in on the Orland Park question regarding the village’s form of government and most of them want things to stay the same.

The question on the April 4 ballot read “Shall the Village of Orland Park retain the managerial form of government?”

The current form of government gives the village manager the final say on many key issues. Unofficially, in Cook County, “yes” won 6,383-3,318 and in Will County, “yes” had a 22-7 edge.

Results will not be official until Cook County and Will County certify the results in the coming weeks.

Mayor Keith Pekau and the board decided to hold the referendum with the hope that voters would vote “no” and the mayor and board would have the final say in hiring and other important issues. His logic was that the people actually voted in should have that say rather than someone who was not elected.

Vote Yes Orland Park tweeted, “Thank you Orland Park! YES won by a greater than 2:1 margin.”

Before the election it tweeted, “Orland Park…we have arrived at the crossroads. The decision made today will (affect) our community for decades.”

Another tweet leading up to the election lauded late mayor Fred Owens, who championed the council-manager form of government.

The village adopted the managerial form in 1983 after a referendum.

Pekau said Wednesday that this will not affect the way the current board and Village Manager George Koczwara do business.

“We, as a board, have a four-star village manager to be transparent,” Pekau said. “But what people just voted for was to keep it secret. There is no requirement to go in front of the board. Our board will not operate that way.

“It doesn’t change anything on how we’re going to operate. This does not change us one bit. It doesn’t impact me and it doesn’t impact our board. It impacts Orland Park for the future.”

He said that during his tenure as mayor, he and the board have cleaned up the lack of transparency plus eliminated nepotism and patronage and this was the last leg of his mission.

“I think people were misinformed – I know they were misinformed,” the mayor said. “I think they were confused because it’s a confusing issue. But it doesn’t impact me in any way.

“Ultimately, we drove nepotism and patronage out of Orland and the people who were behind Vote Yes were people who benefitted from that for 40 years and they want it back.”

Trustees William Healy, Michael Milani and Cynthia Nelson Katsenes will be back on the board for four more years as they were uncontested in Tuesday’s election.

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