BLOOMINGTON — With four aldermen joining the City Council, the city is taking a fresh look at that title.
The council will consider amending the city code to clarify and broaden the references to "aldermen" beyond the current masculine-only reference, said Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus.
Specifically, the proposed ordinance clarifies that the term would have the same meaning and effect as "council member," "alderwomen," "alderwoman," "alderman" and "alderperson," said Tyus.
The council is slated to vote on the change during the council's meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
The change, if approved, "recognizes that there are elected officials who may want to be referred to other than 'alderman.' This officially allows for that," said Tyus. "We are going to appreciate and incorporate the reference that they prefer."
"It's a tiny change, but I think it means a lot to the people who aren't currently seeing themselves in the language that we have," said Jenn Carrillo, who was elected April 2 to represent Ward 6.
In addition to Carrillo, the other newly elected council members are Donna Boelen of Ward 2, Julie Emig of Ward 4 and Jeff Crabill of Ward 8. They were sworn in at a special meeting on May 1, and Monday will be their first regular council meeting.
Carrillo said she brought the matter to the attention of city officials "as a matter of me wanting to make sure that my own materials, my nameplate, my signature and my business cards had my gender pronouns and had a word other than 'alderman.'
"I also urged some of my other incoming council members to request for the same thing, because I think it's important that we begin to normalize that kind of language," said Carrillo.
"I am a big believer that you can't be what you can't see, and so we want to make sure our local government is representative of people of all genders so that they can see themselves in those seats as well," she added.
The council also will consider the appointment of mayor pro tem, who is a council member that serves temporarily in the absence or disability of the mayor.
Former Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt had been serving in the role, but she lost her seat to Carrillo.
In other action, the council is expected to vote on expanding the boundaries of a local enterprise zone to support the $35 million expansion of Brandt Industries' manufacturing facility in rural Hudson. The company plans to increase employment to over 300 full-time employees within six years.
Inclusion in the enterprise zone, which encompasses Bloomington, Normal, McLean County, Gibson City and Ford County, could help Brandt get a sales tax rebate for materials used in the building project.
The Ford County Board and Gibson City Council are set to vote on the change Monday night.
The Normal City Council and McLean County Board have already signed off.
The enterprise zone is currently 14.1 square miles and can be up to 15.