Pot, Gaming Referendums Mixed Bag in ‘Burbs after Tuesday’s Vote

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(Berwyn, IL) – Vice-related referendums saw mixed results in the Chicago-area suburbs after this week’s municipal elections, with cannabis sales approved by voters slightly outpacing losers and video gambling opponents and proponents splitting two contests.

In the three out seven metropolitan counties where cannabis sales referendums appeared on the April 6 ballot – Cook, DuPage, and Lake – voters approved sales in three municipalities and defeated them in two others.

In Cook, Summit and the Cook portion of Roselle approved pot sales while voters in Norridge gave the idea a thumbs down. In DuPage, Woodridge and the DuPage portion of Roselle voted in favor of marijuana sales. Roselle also approved – by a narrow margin – cannabis cultivation. In Lake, Lincolnshire voters defeated their cannabis initiative by one-vote, 472-471.

Meanwhile, while Norridge voters voted solidly against pot sales in their community, they approved overwhelming – 70.5-29.5% – to bring video gaming to town. Their counterparts in Will County’s Bolingbrook doomed a similar measure, 55.3-44.7%.

Despite a split vote on the various pot referendums on Tuesday, a long-time Cook County elections attorney sees a “sea change” in suburban voters’ attitudes on marijuana.

“If you would have asked me five years ago about the possibility of suburban voters approving marijuana sales in their towns, I would have said that you are smoking something,” said municipal government attorney Michael Del Galdo, managing partner of the Berwyn-based Del Galdo Law Group, who is also a campaign strategist. “When the DuPage portion of Roselle votes more strongly in favor of pot sales and sales lose by only one vote in Lake County’s Lincolnshire, that tells you all you need to know about the change of voters’ opinion around marijuana. It’s settled.”

Still, Del Galdo insists that marijuana referendums, like traditional tax and bond referendums, must obey the same laws of political gravity.

“Political dynamics in every community differ and referendum votes do not occur in a silo, but in the context of other electoral contests that are occurring simultaneously where candidates themselves often take positions for or against those referendums,” said Del Galdo. “And, critically, the wording of a referendum on the ballot is paramount, and that frequently goes a long way to explain loss or defeat on election day, whether it is marijuana sales or school bonds. If the language is unpersuasive or overly complicated, a referendum is often doomed from the start.”

davidormsby@davidormsby.com

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April 8, 2021 at 12:28PM

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