New organization to work for change in Rantoul's form of government

RANTOUL — A Rantoul Residents for Representation group has been formed with establishment of an aldermanic form of government one of its main goals and the placement of a referendum on the November ballot asking the public’s opinion.

Following is a question-and-answer session with Mike Schlosser of the group.

How long has the group been in existence and please talk about its goals?

“The group is in its infancy. It sort of grew out of the Concerned Citizens of Rantoul because this became a major topic of concern for many of our citizens. I guess the Rantoul Residents for Representation was officially organized about a month ago.  

“Our overall goal is to improve the quality of life for all Rantoul residents. Many of us living in Rantoul have a great quality of life. Unfortunately there are way too many residents whose quality of life is not great.

“We need to focus on our citizens who are living in poor neighborhoods. As in most communities, it is usually those who are disadvantaged, oppressed and marginalized who have no voice and thus no power. Since the inception of our country, wealth has equaled the power to make change. This greatly affects Rantoul’s low-income and disproportionately impacts racial minority communities.  

“We need to hear their voices and concerns. The best way to do that would be to have someone who lives in the same neighborhood represent their concerns and their needs. It doesn’t seem that the current form of government is representing all citizens of Rantoul. This is not necessarily the fault of the mayor or board members. I would like to believe they truly have the best interest of the community in their hearts. However, because each board member represents the entire community, they listen to everyone — that is everyone who is willing to speak up with their concerns.  

“Unfortunately, there are many in the community who are not speaking up with their concerns.  From the citizens I speak with, they don’t feel it will do any good, don’t know what process to go through, or they are just busy living day to day. We need to become proactive to find out all citizens’ concerns and issues.  

“There are too many citizens who are not speaking, not being heard and thus not being represented.

“If Rantoul were broken up into wards or districts, represented by an alderman in each area, it seems more likely that citizens will come forward with their concerns, thus giving them voice. Further, the alderman will be more invested in his or her particular area and neighborhood. The alderman can be proactive in reaching out to the citizens, gaining their trust and finding solutions to their problems.

“In order to reach this overarching goal, we have other goals to get there. We would like to educate the public on the aldermanic form of government, which is why we have a public meeting scheduled for April 14 from 1-3 p.m. at the Rantoul Public Library. Then we would like to see this question posed on the November ballot, asking residents if they would like to make this change to an aldermanic system.

When do you meet?
“We try to meet weekly. We are very devoted to making change in our town and improving the quality of life for everyone.”

Are there other recent examples of Illinois communities switching from a village to a city form of government?

“Not that I am not aware of (off the top of my head). However, there are numerous communities in Illinois which practice this form of government. For example, Paxton, Villa Grove, Urbana, Champaign, Danville, Lincoln, Kankakee and Darien.

“Maybe the aldermanic form of government was not necessary prior to the early 1990s, but when the base closed and began filling up with new residents, it seems necessary to now make the change. Our town almost doubled in square mileage, and yet our board members live in the north/northwest section of Rantoul, leaving the southeast and south Rantoul (former Chanute Air Force Base) with little attention and little representation.  

“It’s time to give representation to every citizen — thus our reason and motivation for creating Rantoul Residents for Representation (RR4R)."






 

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