The city of Chicago may have a new Mayor-elect in Rahm Emanuel, but Naperville’s seat is still up for grabs, in addition to seats on City Council, the Park Board and the Board on School Districts 203 and 204.
As Election Day in Naperville draws closer, the candidates become increasingly more visible. One of their latest stops is a candidate forum with the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation.
For nearly two hours each, City Council and Mayoral candidates fielded questions from residents at the Municipal Center.
The city’s response to this winter’s record snowfall drove some of the discussion to emergency preparedness plans. The Council candidates agreed that updates are need after plows struggled to clear city cul-de-sacs earlier this month.
However, there was some disagreement regarding Naperville’s Special Events and Cultural Amenities Fund. SECA is a food and beverage tax designed to support local cultural events.
“We need to reign in this slush fund,” said incumbent City Council candidate, Grant Wehrli. “[We need to] make it more reflective of our community by supporting things that are true to us and [Naperville shouldn’t] just spend money just because we have it.”
City Council candidates acknowledged the change in the way they will be elected. Last fall, Naperville voters approved splitting the city into districts with elect one representative, with three elected at large.
“It’s going to take a lot of cooperation on the part of people that sitting up here in City Council, and also city staff,” said City Council candidate, Joe McElroy.
“We’re going to do it and we’re going to do it right,” said incumbent City Council candidate, Robert Fieseler. “[The districts] have to be contiguous and have to be roughly equal in population.”
After city salary freezes and layoffs in past years, the candidates who want to occupy the Mayor’s office discussed the need for strong leadership as the city grapples with financial challenges.
“Because as we go through these hard times, we need every one of you,” said incumbent Mayoral candidate, George Pradel. “We need to just buckle down.”
“Who’s the right person to lead Naperville through these challenging economic times?” said Mayoral candidate, Doug Krause.
The candidates also stressed the need to work together with city staff.
“We should be careful… about the relationship with staff, because they’re very important,” said Mayoral candidate, Kenn Miller. “Especially when we eliminated 150 jobs in the last two years.”
And while some familiar faces are up for re-election in the Council, there are newcomers hoping their messages resonate with voters.
“I think it’s obvious that I’m not a polished politician,” said City Council candidate, Wayne Floegel. “I’m a stay-at-home Dad of a three-year-old and a five-year-old. I’m embedded in this community, willing to do the work.”
With city elections a little more than a month away, candidates are concentrated on getting their names and messages in front of the voters.
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