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Thornton Township voters decisively strike down mental health referendum

62% of voters said “no” to more taxes for mental health services

LANSING, Ill. (March 19, 2024) – On Tuesday, Thornton Township voters doubled down on a message they first sent Township officials nearly 12 months ago: they don’t want Supervisor Tiffany Henyard’s administration raising taxes for the purpose of mental health services.

With all of Thornton Township’s 104 precincts reporting Tuesday night, the final tally stood decisively against the township’s mental health referendum, with 10,124 votes against the proposition (61.84%), and 6,248 votes for it (38.16%).

The referendum stated, in part: “Shall Thornton Township levy an annual tax not to exceed 0.15% for purposes of providing community mental health facilities and services, including facilities and services for the person with a developmental disability or substance use disorder…”

The results of the Thornton Township mental health referendum, as seen on the Cook County Clerk’s website Tuesday night. (CookCountyClerkIL.gov)

The March 19 rejection of the proposal — which township officials said would have cost $21.93 every six months for someone owning a home worth $100,000 — comes nearly a year after it first appeared on ballots in the April 4, 2023, election. At that time, the proposal was narrowly struck down, with 51.24% voting against and 48.76% voting in favor.

Voter turnout on the question was higher this year than last, with 15.88% (17,152) of registered voters weighing in on it this year compared to 13.19% (14,895) last year.

Voters’ stance on the issue was made clear on Election Day after many local mayors and legislators urged township voters to strike down the referendum. In a jointly signed letter, these officials said, “We wish to avoid placing further hardship on homeowners. But we also believe — given recent news media and law enforcement inquiries regarding possible misappropriation of taxpayer dollars — that to request more of township taxpayer’s hard-earned money is at best, ill-advised.

Other referenda

Two other referenda appeared on Thornton Township ballots.

The first asked, “Should the Township open a second food pantry in the Township to provide food assistance to the residents of Thornton Township?”

Voters voted in favor of the proposal 12,159 (72.91%) to 4,518 (27.09%).

The final referendum asked voters, “Should the Township charge a fee of two dollars ($2.00) per person, which shall increase annually by the cost of living, for access to the Township’s soup and salad bar?”

Voters struck down the proposal, with 13,345 (80.15%) voting against, and 3,306 (19.85%) voting for.

Questions about the referenda had surfaced in the days leading up to the election, with Thornton Township Trustee Chris Gonzales saying in an interview with The Lansing Journal that he believes three referenda were placed on the ballot to crowd out any potential public questions that would be adverse to Supervisor Tiffany Henyard and her administration.

Full election results can be found on the Cook County Clerk’s website.

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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Just a comment on voting. When my husband and I went to vote we were asked to mark Democratic, Republican or NonPartisan. I had marked NonPartisan and was given a ballot with just the Thornton Township Referendums on it. My husband had marked one of the other parties and was given a different ballot which included all the candidates along with the referendums. Why does anyone have to know my political preference before voting. I thought voting was a freedom here in America and didn’t realize that it came with political restrictons. I guess its only ok to be labeled when it comes to voting but not for anything else – only in America.

    • I was an election judge yesterday. During setup of the polling place, my fellow judges and I noticed that the Non-Partisan ballots had only the three Thornton Township questions. All of us thought that this was something the voters needed to know. In a general election, voters do not need to declare their party, but yesterday was the day for primary elections for both major parties. Judges were required to ask which election the voter wished to participate in. Whenever someone was undecided or said NonPartisan, all the judges in our precinct would let them know that choosing the NonPartisan ballot would prevent them from voting for U.S. President, States Attorney, or other offices, even though we were not required to do so.

    • Because it’s a primary election, meaning that one is voting for several candidates for a certain position that will represent either the Democrat or Republican ticket to run against each other at a later date. So, the Democrats and Republicans voted for who they wanted to run for president for the November election. Unfortunately the rules are for voting within a specific party and you need to be registered in that party to vote.

  2. Wasn’t aware of that policy never was it said so how do I change my choice I will never vote Republican again so please inform people of that rule

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