Thursday, March 30, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
On Wednesday, I had a phone conversation with Maxine Johnson, who is running for Mayor of Broadview in the April 4, 2017 election.
Johnson, 57, is running atop the Independent Democrats of Broadview Party slate, which includes candidate for clerk, Debra Gillespie, and trustee candidates, Sandra Taylor, Norlander Young and Craig Flowers.
Johnson, who served as the village’s clerk from 2009 until 2013, is a former ally of Broadview’s current mayor, two-term incumbent Sherman Jones. Johnson won her clerk seat running on Jones’s ticket nearly a decade ago. Now, she’s a big reason why he won’t be running for a third-term as mayor.
“I was the one who initiated and organized the term limit referendum in Broadview,” Johnson said, adding that she was motivated to run for mayor partly due to the response she received from residents during that referendum campaign, which she said started roughly a year ago. Johnson said that most of her running mates helped organize that referendum campaign.
The ballot measure, which passed on Nov. 8 with 65 percent of the vote, stated that “no person shall be eligible to seek election to or hold the office of Village President where that person has been previously elected to the office of Village President of the Village of Broadview for two (2) consecutive full four (4) year terms.”
The referendum appeared on the ballot despite numerous attempts by the mayor’s supporters to persuade the courts to remove it. They argued that the measure was largely a personal attack on Jones by his opponents on the board. That it did not apply to any trustee positions, they said, bolstered their claims.
In our conversation, Johnson — a former nonprofit grant writer and longtime advocate for victims of domestic violence — framed her candidacy as a grassroots uprising against the outgoing mayor. She also addressed some of the criticisms lodged against the referendum.
Johnson is running against Katrina Thompson, who heads the Broadview People’s Party, on which Jones is running for trustee; independent candidate Princess Dempsey; Better Broadview Party candidate Judy Brown-Marino; and independent candidate Vernon Terry.
So, what was the motivating factor behind your decision to launch the referendum?
We took the initiative from former governor Pat Quinn. [Last year, Quinn launched a petition drive to limit Chicago’s mayor position to two terms].
When people are voted into positions like mayor and governor, they tend to make it a lifetime thing. Just look at all the people who are running in Broadview now and who aren’t afraid.
Why didn’t you all apply the term limits referendum to other positions, such as trustee seats? Some critics of the referendum say this is about a personal vendetta against Jones and they bring up the fact that the term limit referendum only applied to his seat.
They say that the people who organized the referendum are connected to the strip club [that’s been trying to come into Broadview for years]. That’s not true. We’ve been aware of the strip club since 2007. The strip club lawsuit was going on when I was clerk. Independent Democrats oppose the strip club and we oppose Mayor Jones for taking strip club money.
There isn’t any technical reason why we didn’t include the trustees as part of the referendum. We were just taking our cue from Quinn. We took his initiative and ran with it in Broadview. It wasn’t that we were looking to move Sherman out. We really didn’t even know how the residents would react to it.
But extending term limits to the trustees is something I’m in support of. Some of the present trustees would also like to see term limits applied to those other board seats. I would like us to bring the younger generation on so we can mentor them and teach them our government. Hopefully, someone else can organize [a referendum that applies to trustee seats] or a new board can come up with something.
What are some areas in which you disagree with Jones? And what governing vision does your party have for Broadview?
I really oppose everything Sherman has done. And we oppose Thompson because she wants to carry on some of the same things Jones was considering, such as home rule. We’re against that.
[Home rule communities have greater self-governing power than non-home rule communities, particularly the ability to raise taxes with fewer restrictions from the state. Click here for more information].
The reason we oppose home rule has a lot to do with taxes. If we become a home rule community, it would give too much power to the board to keep increasing our taxes. I think we’re taxed enough. For example, we shouldn’t have tax levies every year. We should only have them when it’s necessary.
I also don’t think Jones has done enough for seniors, so we want to expand senior services. He did establish some programs, like snow removal, for seniors and we want to continue that. But we also want to do more for the seniors. For instance, we want to beef up home repair services for seniors.
And mainly, we want to return good services, like street cleaning, to all of Broadview’s residents. Under Jones, if you weren’t a friend or family member of the mayor, you didn’t receive the same kind of services.
We’re also looking at new technology, such as a cell phone app that allows residents to pinpoint crimes, report problems, get a calendar of events and other things. We would like to integrate that program within our police department.
Why should voters elect you and your running mates?
The reason why I ran, and why we are better candidates, is because we’re not politicians. We’re all advocates in the community and we can bring our passion to Broadview and to collaborating with local governments across Proviso Township, such as communities like Maywood and Bellwood.
You have to be able to reach out and meet people where they’re at. When you have a hunger for community like we do, it makes you a better person. VFP