Voters in Cahokia, Alorton and Centreville on Tuesday approved a proposal to merge their towns to create a new city called “Cahokia Heights,” according to unofficial returns.
With all precincts reporting and 7,226 ballots cast, 4,428 (or about 61% of voters) voted for the merger, and 2,650 ( or about 37% of voters) voted against it. There are over 600 outstanding mail-ballots in Centreville Township precincts.
Curtis McCall Sr, Centreville Township supervisor and proponent of the merger, said Tuesday’s results make him more optimistic about the future of the new city.
“Citizens of Cahokia, Alorton and Cetreville spoke today, and they spoke loud and clear that they want a government that’s going to serve the citizens, “ he said. “They want change and they voted for change, and I believe that change starts, as it has today, locally, then on a county level and then on a state level.”
“I’m so proud that they looked beyond what critics have said to read, to learn, to investigate what was at stake. What was at stake was the future, the future of the cities, the future for their children, their grandchildren. And I think it’s going to be up to the newly elected officials to deliver that.”
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The referendum is the second phase of the “Better Together” campaign, a four-part plan to consolidate the three towns. The first phase was in March, when voters in Centreville and Alorton approved a measure to merge the towns into “Alcentra.” Third and fourth phases include the dissolution of Centreville Township and adding Commonfields of Cahokia to the newly formed Cahokia Heights.
Elections for the new city will be held in April. Local officials have touted the benefits of a proposed merger, citing severe population decline in the three cities as the reason for needing one larger city. Among cities in St. Clair County, Cahokia had the steepest population decline, with a loss of about 9% of its residents in the past 10 years.
A merged city with a larger population would lead to more federal funding to fix poor infrastructure, like an eroding sewer system, according to city leaders.
Residents weren’t provided information from a study that would tell them how much the merger would cost them or save them, creating skepticism among some voters.
McCall said next steps include educating those who didn’t support merger.
“It’s one thing to win, but it’s another to govern,” McCall said. “That’s what we’re going to have to work on. We need to put a team together that should consist of those who were for the merger along with those who were not for the merger. I think that everyone’s voice should be heard in this new city. That’s how we’re going to serve the people in Cahokia Heights.”
Illinois State Board of Elections will certify the results from local election officials on Dec. 4.
This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.