Rob Ayres, who has voiced criticism of recent decisions by the board at several park board meetings, said he wants to see if three advisory questions on the March 18 primary ballot could be just as easily answered by a simple online survey.
In November, the park board voted 3-2 to put three questions on the ballot, with board majority members Peter Hurtado, Peter Steinys and Janet Silosky voting yes and Mary Kay Ludemann and Larry Newton voting no. In a recent interview with the Herald News, Newton said the three measures are "completely silly questions."
In November, Ludemann said she disagreed with putting the term limit question on the ballot, saying voters should be able to make those decisions at the polls.
Since then, some residents have questioned whether approving the advisory questions was a move to avoid having a recall placed on the ballot — especially amid increasing calls for the board majority's resignation. The park district can have only three referendum questions on the ballot.
Ayres said he wonders why the board didn't simply do an online survey to gauge residents' feelings on the questions, which are as follows:
- Should use of the Plainfield Township Park District's dog parks be regulated by permit?
- Should the Plainfield Township Park District impose term limits of its park board so that they may serve no more than two six-year terms?
- Should the Plainfield Township Park District investigate the purchase or construction of an indoor recreational facility?
"I wondered about why they wouldn't use a survey when this came up with the current board majority earlier in their term, and then after reading the online article about this issue, I did a quick search on my iPad to see how difficult it would be to create a survey," Ayres said.
He's hoping to get residents to respond to his survey, which asks the same three questions. Click here to vote in the survey.
"I firmly believe that this method of reaching out to the residents and gaining their input is far easier than placing these questions on the ballot for no other reason than to block anything else, more pressing, from being included on the ballot," Ayres said, adding he hopes to show that the results of the online survey mirror those of the referendum questions.
Ayres also believes an online survey is a better way of providing information to voters and getting feedback, especially given frequently low voter turnout. In the April 2013 election, just 11 percent of registered voters in Plainfield went to the polls.
"By doing the online survey, there is the ability to provide more information, provide some good data to analyze and let's be honest, there is a good chance that there will be more volume in this than the number of people voting," Ayres said. "While this is sad, there is reality in this."
No matter how residents vote on the three questions, the results are non-binding.
"I might read the question on the community center and not realize that by saying 'yes,' the only thing I have really said yes to was for the commissioners to investigate a community center," Ayres said. "My saying yes does not mean they will definitely work on this, that they will build one or that there will be any update."
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