Poland, part of KEEP when it first organized during the 1991 referendum, which saw Danville voters rule out a change in government by roughly a 5-1 margin, said in 2008 there are two distinct differences in Danville's government.
"The biggest difference, I feel, is that our mayor has just come off (ethics violations) and is still organizing the change in government," said Poland of embattled Danville Mayor Hugh Coomer. "He's taking a strong position personally and with other council members."
The second difference, in Poland's eyes, is a much more positive one.
"The second, I think, is that there's so much change. There's so much positive that's been going on," said Poland, noting the growth in medical facilities, landscaping downtown and the new city parking garage. "All of this was done in part because of the city manager. I can't imagine that we'd be in this situation without (that position)."
The current referendum is part of yet another petition drive facilitated by five dedicated petitioners. It accrued more than 1,241 required signatures and was turned in Aug. 12, moments before the deadline for it to make it to the November ballot.
One of those petitioners, Steve Becker, said he was new to the Danville community when the first referendum happened in 1991, but has ideas as to the difference in nature of the two votes.
"I think the dynamics of the City Commission are different," Becker said. "People were not in tune with the fact that the mayor is not full-time and just part of the commission. We're getting more awareness of that."
Poland and Becker disagree with the current standing of Danville's government when compared to that of other area governments.
Becker thinks change would foster economic development
Becker views economic development as something that would only expand under the mayor-council form of government.
"We need a 'go-to person' for Danville when industry comes into the city. It's time that we get back to having Danville identified with a strong civic leader," said Becker.
The petitioner also said he viewed the mayor-council form as having much-needed extra representation.
"It would definitely offer the residents more representation within the city. We're not talking about wards, but it would expand the size (in members) of the council," he said.
Poland said Danville, despite its recent conflicts, is still held in high regard.
"If you look at our community versus others statewide, we are seen as a shining light. There's some question of that on the part of the petitioners, but the fact is we are seen as a shining light," he said.
The KEEP chairman said every day new things are happening in Danville to set it apart from other communities.
"Just today (Thursday) there was a groundbreaking on a cancer center that's $20 million-plus and second to none. That's the result of an alliance of groups in the community that sponsor economic development. And that's just in the past 24 hours," he said.
With the vote being only a little more than a week away, both sides of the reform issue are feeling positive.
"I have a lot of people stopping me on the street to ask me about the referendum. They say to me that they want a change. I think it's probably going to do better (than the 1991 vote), and it's going to be a close vote," said Becker.
Poland describes his feeling as cautiously optimistic.
"One doesn't really know," he said. "From a fundraising standpoint, we've done reasonably well. You can really just go by what you feel and what you see."