As voters head out to vote for mayor, they are also voting for liquor commissioner. Under Illinois law, the mayor is the liquor commissioner, though in some cities the task is handed off to an appointee or a commission. The fact that mayors sit in judgment of alleged infractions by liquor license holders is a problem, says Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association.
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“If you’re a mayor and a liquor commissioner simultaneously, you are probably raising (campaign) money from the liquor establishments you are overseeing, and that’s a conflict. It raises questions about where your loyalties lie,” he said. Shaw says state lawmakers should either change the law so that mayors aren’t liquor commissioners, or ban campaign contributions to mayors or candidates for mayor by liquor license holders or applicants. If mayors are not liquor commissioners, an administrative officer, either of the city or the state, could hear cases involving license holders alleged to have violated the liquor law.