Metro-East News

East St. Louis resident wants mayoral form of government. Judge says not right now.

Free presentation about Restorative Justice and Teen Court will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at SWIC's Red Bud campus.
Free presentation about Restorative Justice and Teen Court will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at SWIC's Red Bud campus.

For now, East St. Louis voters won’t get to say whether they want to change from the city manager form of government to the strong mayoral form of government.

A St. Clair County judge on Wednesday dismissed a motion brought by an East St. Louis resident to change the form of government in East St. Louis.

Matt Hawkins had filed his motion to change from city manager form of government to the strong mayoral form of government. His objector, City Councilman Robert Eastern III, through his attorney, Bob Sprague, challenged whether the motion was filed within the 30-day period allowed. Sprague said it was not and therefore the judge had no authority to go forward with a hearing.

“We’re way past the 30 days and I suggest the court has no authority to hear this,” Sprague said. Hawkins argued that he had no control over the court’s schedule.

“I asked for a court date well within the 30 days. I can’t make the court change its docket,” Hawkins told Associate Judge Julie Katz.

After the judge’s ruling, Carl Officer, who is strongly in favor of the strong mayoral form of government said he was “disappointed.”

Eastern said changing to the mayoral form of government would mean the current City Council would increase to eight, which currently pays $21,000 a year.

East St. Louis City Attorney John Baricevic, who attended the hearing, said the ballots in East St. Louis are already certified and printed — another argument for delaying putting the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“With the issues the city has, you need the strongest, most-effective management you can possibly get,” Hawkins said.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503.
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