Peru clerk decides against insert for pool referendum in city’s bills

‘I don’t think it’s the role of the city of Peru to educate the public on a political topic,’ clerk says

The Peru City Clerk’s Office will not put flyers with information about a possible November referendum for a municipal swimming pool in the mailing of city bills, the clerk said, because he believes it is political language.

Former Peru Alderwoman Sherry Mayszak has been working on the advisory referendum since the fall and requested in February to mail informational flyers with the city’s bills.

She was disappointed that City Clerk Dave Bartley denied her request after hearing what the State Board of Elections said about the request.

Bartley said his office reached out to the state to clarify what would be appropriate to mail with city bills. He said the inserts that the city regularly includes with utility bills generally support Peru activities, such as the BB Gun Club, concerts in the park or other charitable functions such as the Peru Education Foundation.

In an email shared by Mayszak in her exchange with Bartley, the State Board of Elections advised that as long as the information provided is only factual/informational in nature, then it is not considered political activity. The materials cannot expressly advocate for or against the referendum question – in other words, the materials cannot say “vote for,” “vote against,” “support,” “oppose” or similar statements, the state board said.

Bartley said Mayszak’s flyer is an explanation of how a pool can be financed, which has been a political topic in Peru since the pool was closed in 2008.

“I fundamentally believe that a referendum is a political communication in order to garner support through the electoral process,” Bartley said. “She has every opportunity to go and circulate a petition … but I don’t think it’s the role of the city of Peru to educate the public on a political topic.”

Mayszak said it is Bartley’s decision, and she has to respect it.

“It would have been a huge help in getting word out to voters about the referendum,” Mayszak said. “My original plan was to distribute flyers myself, and with help from other people who are willing to help, so that is what will happen going forward.”

Mayszak said the start date for getting signatures is May 7, and she will do her best to distribute as many flyers as possible before then, which most likely will be done by walking door to door.

An elections official in February said that for a referendum to be placed on a ballot, a person needs to collect 8% of the total votes placed for governor in the previous election from registered voters, and they would need to be turned in by Aug. 5.

Mayszak said in February that she needs 331 registered voters’ signatures to have the referendum placed on the November ballot.

The referendum will state: “Shall the city of Peru construct and operate a municipal swimming pool funded by the use of the hotel/motel tax?”

If Mayszak gets the referendum on the ballot and it passes, it’s not binding. This means Peru still may not construct a pool, but it will put political pressure on the Peru City Council to do so, she said.

For information about the referendum, visit the Friends and Family for Peru Pool Facebook page at

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