News Local/State

Referendum In Rantoul Calls For Election Of Village Trustees From Districts

Campaign sign for the Rantoul Districting Referendum.

A campaign sign for the Rantoul Districting Referendum, outside the Champaign County Brookens Administration Center in Urbana. Jim Meadows/Illinnois Public Media

A referendum on Tuesday’s ballot in Rantoul would have village board members elected from districts, instead of at-large.

All six of Rantoul’s village trustees live north of U-S Route 136, which bisects the village. The referendum would force a change, by dividing the village into six districts, electing one trustee from each.

Champaign County Board member Jack Anderson supports the referendum. And Rantoul north-sider himself, Anderson said districting would encourage political participation in Rantoul’s less affluent southern and southeastern neighborhoods, which include the site of the former Chanute Air Force Base.

“The hope is to allow these people to begin to participate in the community as volunteers, and then organically grow as leaders,” said Anderson.

But Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith said electing the village board from districts would pit neighborhood against neighborhood.

“I think the system we have right now is better, because all of our trustees are elected at-large, and they don’t represent any specific district, and they all represent the entire community,” said Smith.

Rantoul Residents For Representation, the group behind the referendum, argues that trustees elected from districts would be more in touch with the neighborhoods they represent.