ROCKFORD — Next Rockford, a young professionals organization that aims to engage the city’s next generation of leaders, has endorsed the passage of a March 20 referendum that would restore home rule.

The group’s Strategy Team voted to support home rule after a series of open meetings that allowed opponents and supporters to voice their opinions.

“Home Rule is a topic that Next Rockford has been researching, studying and consulting experts on for over a decade,” the group said in a news release. “We feel that the timing is right for our city to regain its home rule powers.”

Next Rockford said home rule would allow the city to reclaim local control and a local voice, rather than put the city’s fate in the hands of lawmakers in Springfield. “Sure, our community has elected representatives in Springfield, but they are simply 5 out of 177 voices and unfortunately, they often get drowned out by other priorities elsewhere in the state.”

The group also said home rule could lead to lower property taxes and allow the city to put a preference on hiring local contractors after public bids.