Naperville local elections interest has soared after a year of contentious state and national elections. People are eager to weigh in on the decisions that directly impact the citizens of our community. On this Finding Common Ground, hosts Dana Davenport and Rebecca Malotke-Meslin, talk to former members of the school boards, park district, and city council about their experiences and their thoughts on where we are today and where we are headed in the future.
Are Naperville Local Elections Really Non-Partisan?
The group discussed why local elections are non-partisan and why they should remain that way. Guest Rebecca Boyd-Obarski said, ”In opposite to the state and national elections, it’s done in a non-partisan way, and so while right now as a country we are very partisan focused, the City Council is really about your neighbors coming together and making decisions that impact you. And when you look at City council voting it’s just great to see that interesting array on every issue, the way it differs. Because people aren’t voting along a ticket or a party, they are voting based on what they think is most important on that particular issue, on that night, for Naperville. And not just for now, but for the future.”
Kenn Miller weighed in quoting Tip O’Neil, The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who said, “All politics is local.” Ken went on to state, “Someone on City Council may have a long-term motivation to have a higher office and so those politics can play in on how you decide something, making a decision that could be favorable to your political allies. I throw that out as a concern, and hope people will think of Naperville first.”
Host Dana Davenport, said, “I think that’s a valid concern to stay focused on the things that really matter because we can get bogged down in other ties that impact our ability to be successful.”
What Motivates Candidates To Run?
Host Rebecca Malotke-Meslin asked the former park and school board members, “What types of things do you think motivate someone to run for elected office?”
Guest Mary Lou Wehrli responded with, “they should be motivated and welcomed into office by the mission and vision and work of the unit of government and not by money, status, perks, or climbing a ladder. Motivation should be from the heart and to give to the community, community that they know.”
Dean Reschke agreed with Mary saying, “You better have a motivation that is larger than yourself” and his guiding principle was something he learned on a canoe trip in Canada during his youth, “you leave your campsite better than they found it, and I think that has really served me and I hope that most people running are trying to leave the campsite better than they found it.”
The whole panel agreed on the importance of voting in local elections and urged voters to head to the polls and let their voices be heard. Alka Tyle commented, “The higher the voter turn-out the better representation of the whole electorate.”
To learn more about voting, find your closest voting location, and learn how to safely vote during Covid-19 visit the city of Naperville’s website. To watch interviews with all the candidates running on April 6, 2021, visit NCTV17’s Meet the Candidates.
Kenn Miller, City Councilman 2005-2013
Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, City Councilwoman 2015-2019
Mary Lou Wehrli, Park Board Commissioner 1999-2005 and DuPage Forest Preserve Commissioner 2012-2020
Dean Reschke, D203 School Board Member 2001-2009
Alka Tyle, D204 School Board Member 2006-2011
About the Show
Finding Common Ground is focused on important current events and how they impact our diverse population. We are many voices of one community, often with strong opinions on every side of an issue. Here, through courageous conversation in the interest of discovering collaborative solutions, we hope to find our common ground.
Throughout the show guests and viewers are invited to acknowledge the four agreements to courageous conversations:
- Stay Engaged
- Speak Your Truth
- Experience Discomfort
- Expect and Accept Non-Closure