COAL VALLEY -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner brought his traveling show to Coal Valley on Tuesday, saying Illinois' political system is not a democracy, but a system where political boundaries look like spaghetti noodles rigged to protect incumbents.
Gerrymandering is nothing new in Illinois, but Gov. Rauner, speaking at the Corn Crib Nursery in Coal Valley, said the question of remapping those political boundaries, along with term limits, should be put before the voters, despite a recent setback to his cause last week.
The governor is proposing the Illinois General Assembly come back during its fall veto session after the Nov. 8 elections and pass constitutional amendments to put term limits and redrawn legislative maps on the ballot. He said the earliest those amendments could be voted on by the public would be November 2018.
"We have got to get the power to the people and away from the career politicians and special interest groups," the governor said, standing outside under the sun on a makeshift stage surrounded by straw bales.
Last week, a referendum allowing Illinois voters to decide if an independent commission should draw the state's political boundaries was struck down by a judge who ruled it was unconstitutional for November's ballot. It was the second setback for advocates of redistricting reform since 2014, when a judge tossed a similar proposal.
Gov. Rauner said term limits are supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans throughout the state.
"We need term limits to change the culture," he said. "We can't let the special interest groups and the career politicians who control Springfield dictate terms for the people of Illinois.
"The people's voices need to be heard."
The governor said he believes anybody in statewide office should serve no longer than eight years and no more than 10 years in the General Assembly.
"Work for the people, not personal gain, not power and pensions," he said.
A number of people stood outside in the parking lot listening to the governor's speech. One of those was retiring Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson. who is in his 12th term (24th year) in office.
Rep. Moffitt said if voters were allowed to decide term limits and remapping on the ballot, both measures would likely pass.
"I'm troubled one person, one judge, could throw it out," he said. "I hope redistricting becomes a reality. If redistricting is done right, the voters will take care of term limits so that either party could get the majority, so that either side could actually have that majority.
"The people would take care of it. That's what elections are about. There should be term limits on leadership positions, the speaker, the president of the Senate. Those are more powerful positions usually than the governor's, and it shouldn't be that way.
"All of the people get to vote on the governor. All of the people do not get to vote on the speaker and the president of the senate."
Gov. Rauner said if the Democrat-controlled General Assembly votes to put constitutional amendments related to remapping and term limits on the ballot, the courts, "won't have a voice on it.
"The courts won't overrule. We can get it right on the ballot, so the people of Illinois can decide."