Nearly 54 percent of voters Tuesday rejected returning the city of Rockford to home rule status. Rockford was a home rule city until 1983.
Leading up to the primary vote, opponents feared restoring home rule would lead to higher property taxes and an abuse of power by city leaders. Supporters maintained it would allow city leaders to diversify revenue and put less of a burden on homeowners.
The home rule ballot initiative was backed by Democratic Mayor Tom McNamara, who characterized home rule as a tool that could help the city enhance local control outside of Springfield politics. Though disappointed by the results, McNamara says he isn’t finished with the concept.
“I 100 percent believe that home rule is the right way for the city of Rockford to reduce our reliance on property taxes and to strengthen our neighborhoods," he said. "I’m certainly not going to stop in that effort.”
The opposition campaign was run by Brian Leggero, McNamara's Republican opponent in last year's mayoral race. He says the referendum results reflect resident opinion.
"I just think it’s a great victory," he said. "We had a grassroots effort. A lot of people that aren’t happy with our mayor and city council, they came forward tonight, and this is really a referendum on the mayor."
A statewide realtor organization assisted the opposition campaign. It paid for yard signs that urged voters to take a stand against home rule.
Home Rule referendum results 100% of precincts reporting
- Yes: 11,543 -- 46.35%
- No: 13,362 -- 53.65%