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Federal judge rejects McHenry Township lawsuit on road district referendum

State court proceedings seen as 'adequate opportunity' for due process

McHenry Township Supervisor Craig Adams is listed as a plaintiff on a lawsuit seeking to halt a road district referendum. He and McHenry Township residents Robert Beltran and Judith Gottlieb allege that the referendum is unconstitutional and argue a cost study should be required to show the financial outcome before voters can choose.
McHenry Township Supervisor Craig Adams is listed as a plaintiff on a lawsuit seeking to halt a road district referendum. He and McHenry Township residents Robert Beltran and Judith Gottlieb allege that the referendum is unconstitutional and argue a cost study should be required to show the financial outcome before voters can choose.

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit trying to derail a referendum on the November ballot that gives voters the power to abolish the McHenry Township Road District.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala released a written order Friday denying a request for a temporary restraining order to stop McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan from including the referendum on the ballot.

Because the McHenry County Circuit Court had rejected the same lawsuit at the state level, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois abstained from getting involved in the neighboring jurisdiction, according to the order.

“[The] court finds that state court proceedings did constitute an adequate opportunity to raise the due process and equal protection claims plaintiffs seek to advance before this court,” it reads.

The plaintiffs in the case – listed as McHenry Township residents Robert Beltran and Judith Gottlieb and Supervisor Craig Adams – allege that the referendum is unconstitutional and argue a cost study should be required to show the financial outcome before voters can choose.

The defendants – McHenry Township trustees, McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan and the Illinois State Board of Elections – argue that electors do not have the power to direct the township board to do anything.

At the time of the federal filing, McClellan’s office already had printed more than 200,000 ballots and mailed thousands for early voting.

The lawsuit landed in Rockford one week after McHenry County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Costello dismissed a similar lawsuit.

The lawsuit stemmed from the township’s annual meeting in April, when a group of residents was given the chance to directly address trustees about how to manage the township. They voted, 76-0, on a request calling for a cost study to explore how consolidation could affect taxpayers.

Costello ruled that electors do not have the statutory power to direct the board.

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