Home Rule Policy Supported By Some In Freeport, But Not By All

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp sees the city's history of home rule as a tool which gets city issues solved, and solved faster.

"If projects do come at hand that are going to be advantagous for Freeport. We have to have home rule to move forward in a timely manner. It's great to have those opportunities," Gaulrapp said.

With home rule in place here in Freeport, it gives local leaders more authority to move forward on local projects. However, critics say, it gives too much authority.

"There are a lot of areas where the state has much more experience. Furthermore, state law often protects citizens from the municipality the live in," John Cook said.

Longtime home rule opponent John Cook is one such critic. He says home rule allows Freeport officials to approve expensive issues without public input, and then pass those costs off to the public.

"I think that Freeport is in much worse shape than any municipality around the area if you look at the books, and the only thing you can look at is the misuse of home rule," Cook said.

Mayor Gaulrapp points out home rule in Freeport shouldn't be used for every issue. He believes the city is better off with home rule, as long as it's used when it should be.

"We have a good administration. We have good council members who are thinking financially and for the better of Freeport. They aren't looking to abuse anything, so as long as we keep those two things in mind, we'll be fine," Gaulrapp said.

A home rule policy which some believe helps a city flourish, and others believe helps put a community in financial trouble.

The 1970 Illinois Constitution allows for any municipality with a population of 25,000 people or more to adopt home rule. Rockford residents voted to remove home rule back in 1983. However, Rockford voters could vote to bring back home rule in a referendum next March.


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