Voters got to hear from candidates for Naperville City Council last night thanks to a forum held by the League of Women Voters – Naperville.
Eleven candidates are in the running for four seats in the April 6 consolidated election, and all were on hand to participate in the forum. Because of the number of candidates, each had only one minute to answer each question about various issues facing Naperville. One topic that several candidates were passionate about was the city’s shortage of affordable and attainable housing.
“It is time to discuss affordable housing,” said Lucy Chang Evans, a civil engineer. “I would like the city to look into more PUD’s – those are Planned Unit Developments. Those are mixed-use properties that have residential, commercial, and recreational [uses]. We can mix those and put more things on a smaller footprint.”
“We need to find ways to incentivize developers to include affordable housing in the mix of their developments,” said Jim Haselhorst, who manages a dental practice. “I’m against the idea of segregating affordable housing to a certain part of our city – that would be negative… We need to come up with a solution that makes sure affordable housing is spread out and mixed into our communities.”
“This is one of the most pressing things immediately for us,” said incumbent Benny White. “I am committed to mitigating the issue. I understand the need to work with developers who have the expertise and experience to increase our workforce attainable and affordable inventory without isolating it to a specific area of the community.”
“I like the idea of city workers being able to live in Naperville because as those city workers are more engaged in the community, they’re more connected with the community, they just tend to do their jobs better,” said network consultant Paul Leong.
Other questions asked candidates about how they would address traffic issues.
Some candidates discussed specific areas of concern, while others took a broader look at how these traffic problems occur.
“I talked to every department head in the city and the feedback I consistently got about how we can, as a council, give direction to staff to solve this problem is to set big picture objectives,” said local attorney Ian Holzhauer. “The big picture objective I would like to set is that every kid in Naperville should be able to walk to their neighborhood park through a protected stop sign intersection.”
“Traffic patterns need to be analyzed in a post-COVID world,” said operations analyst Allison Longenbaugh. “The traffic around the train station is very unlikely to return to prior levels with more employees and employers embracing working from home… Another thing that would be done is to add more bike lanes, because if biking becomes a safer and more attractive way of traveling through the city, it would alleviate some of the traffic.”
“The topic of traffic is often tied to the question of development,” said control systems integrator Mark Urda. “One of the main reasons for [the Polo Grounds development] not going forward was the inability of existing roads to handle that sized development. That is not an isolated problem… I would say that we must work closely to make sure that density does not add to these traffic problems.”
“We have always been catching up on traffic and infrastructure situation after the developers get approval for things,” said Vincent Ory, owner of Ory Realty, Inc. “I believe it should be on the developers to come up with that type of study with the City of Naperville so we don’t have to catch up afterwards.”
Candidates were also asked what they would do to help Naperville move to renewable forms of energy. Currently, the vast majority of Naperville’s electricity comes from a coal plant in southern Illinois.
“I am advocating for more distributive generation,” said incumbent John Krummen. “Right now we mostly have a single source generation in a power plant and then it’s distributed throughout. What we need is more solar panels and community solar. And I’m happy to report that based on my efforts along with public utility advisory board and the sustainability task force, we’ve had a 200% increase from 2019 to 2020 in terms of solar panel projects.”
“We’re not going to be able to get out of our contract,” said former prosecutor Jennifer Bruzan Taylor. “However what we can do is use our power as the largest consumer to hold them to their goal. In the next five years [Illinois Municipal Electric Agency] said they’re going to reduce their coal usage by 40%, so let’s hold them to that.”
“We need to hold IMEA accountable and fight for change for clean energy as well,” said IT management professional Vasavi Chakka. “We have only one planet to live on, we have only one home, so we need to make sure our kids and generations to come are educated on clean energy issues and also to reduce our carbon footprint.”
For More Information
You can watch the candidate forum in its entirety on the league’s Facebook page. As another resource for candidate information, NCTV17 Executive Director Liz Spencer sat down one-on-one with each candidate for city council, as well as the park district board and both school district boards, which you can find here.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
Disclaimer: Ian Holzhauer is a former member of the NCTV17 Board of Directors. John Krummen and Benny White are nonvoting Naperville City Council representatives on the NCTV17 Board.
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