What the Gov: Here Are the Ballot Measures in the Feb. 26 Chicago Elections

Though there aren't any citywide measures, voters in some wards and precincts will weigh in on rent control, marijuana funds and more.

This article is part of a series called What the Gov, where BGA Engagement Editor Mia Sato takes reader questions and tracks down the answers.

Ballot measures, the sometimes long-winded and often toothless referendum questions at the end of voters’ ballots, tend to get lost in the shuffle of election season and especially in a race with 14 mayoral candidates.

There are no citywide referendum questions in Tuesday’s election, but there are localized measures in a handful of precincts and all of them are advisory, meaning the results won’t result in any action but might be considered collective expressions of opinion. You can find your ward and precinct here.

Here’s a rundown of the measures that do appear on ballots and where they appear.

Rent control

Voters in several wards can weigh in on rent control, a practice found in other major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco but banned under Illinois law.

Chicago Democratic State Rep. Mary Flowers is sponsoring legislation in Springfield to lift the ban and slice up the state into six regions, each with a rent control board overseeing local regulations. It almost surely will face a difficult path to approval.

If you voted in the state and federal elections, you might recall seeing a similar advisory measure on the ballot in both the March primary and November general elections. Both times, a majority of Chicago voters endorsed lifting the ban.

There are two rent control measures with slightly different wording.

Exact wording: "Should the State of Illinois lift the ban on rent control to address rising rents, unjust evictions, and gentrification in our community?"

Wards and precincts voting on this measure:

Ward 1, precincts 1, 17, 20, 24, 26, and 30

Ward 26, precincts 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 24 and 40

Ward 50, precincts 8 and 13

Exact wording: "Should the State of Illinois lift the statewide ban on rent control in order to stabilize the cost of housing for Chicago's working families?"

Wards and precincts voting on this measure:

Ward 45, precincts 11, 15 and 17

Community Benefits Agreement ordinance

Community benefits agreements are legally enforceable contracts between local community groups and developers. CBAs may require developers to provide specific services and amenities or to meet demands that ensure local communities aren’t harmed by major development projects.

There are two advisory CBA ballot measures — one for the Obama Presidential Center in the 5th and 20th wards, and one for the El Paseo Trail in the 12th, 22nd and 25th wards. Activists are pushing for protections for low income and non-white residents, increased affordable housing and the creation of jobs, among other demands.

Exact wording: "Shall our alderman support a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinance to prevent the displacement of residents from the area surrounding the Obama Center by having: 1) 30% set-aside of affordable housing; 2) Property tax freeze; 3) Funding for local jobs and affordable housing."?

Wards and precincts voting on this measure:

Ward 5, precinct 5

Ward 20, precincts 1, 22 and 23

Exact wording: "Should our alderman support a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Ordinance to prevent the displacement of residents from the area surrounding the El Paseo Trail by having: 1) 30% set-aside of affordable housing; 2) Property tax freeze; 3) Funding for local jobs and affordable housing?"

Wards and precincts voting on this measure:

Ward 12, precincts 15 and 18

Ward 22, precinct 15

Ward 25, precincts 12 and 23

Marijuana funds

New Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker has not only backed the legalization of marijuana but is counting on it to help balance the state budget he unveiled Feb. 20.

Voters in several wards across the city will be asked to weigh in on how to use tax revenue from marijuana sales should they become legal. The referendum question in parts of the 6th, 16th, 17th, 24th, 28th and 29th Wards asks voters whether potential funds should be reinvested in “low-income, disenfranchised communities hit hard by the war on drugs.”

In November, all Chicago voters weighed in on a similar non-binding question that asked whether marijuana revenue should be diverted in part to help fund public schools and mental health services. More than 88 percent of voters endorsed the measure.

Exact wording: "In the event that the recreational use and sale of marijuana is legalized in the State of Illinois, should the City of Chicago appropriate tax or other revenues it receives from the sales of marijuana to fund neighborhood reinvestment in low-income, disenfranchised communities hit hard by the war on drugs?"

Wards and precincts voting on this measure:

Ward 6, precincts 5, 23, and 26

Ward 16, precinct 33

Ward 17, all precincts

Ward 24, precincts 5, 20 and 30

Ward 28, all precincts

Ward 29, precincts 2, 3, 16, 26 and 28