Beginning at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee meeting earlier this month and circulating to local pubs, questions continually have come up regarding the Naperville Municipal Code as it relates to candidates running for elected office who also own liquor licenses. The candidate running for Naperville City Council who fits that description is James “Jimmy” Bergeron, No. 6 on the ballot.
Late this afternoon, City Prosecutor Mike DiSanto walked PN through the City’s Municipal Code featured online that details the restrictions that prevent at this time anyone who owns a liquor license to serve on the Naperville City Council. According to DiSanto, Bergeron is permitted to run. He just would not be permitted to renew his annual liquor license if he won the election.
Find the Naperville Municipal Code at www.naperville.il.us. DiSanto also noted an exception in the state statute.
Naperville Municipal Code
Title 3 – Business & License Regulations / Chapter 3 – Liquor and Tobacco Control
3-3-5 – Restrictions on Liquor Licenses
Sub Section 5
No such license shall be issued to:
14 Any elected public official, Naperville officer or employee or member of any Naperville board or commission; and no such official shall be interested in any way, either directly or indirectly, in the manufacture, sale or distribution of alcoholic liquor.
Illinois State Exception / 235 IL CS 5/6-2 / Sub Section 14
Statement from Jim Bergeron, owner of The Wise Boxer Pour House and candidate for Naperville City Council, regarding suspension of his candidacy in the Consolidated Election on April 7, 2015
To the Community:
An issue has come up with my campaign for City Council that needs to be addressed.
First, I need to give a little history on the issue regarding liquor licenses.
In 1938 the State of Illinois put its first liquor license laws into effect, trying to prevent the mob from being represented in government. The state passed a law making it illegal for anyone having any interest in a liquor license to hold any state or local elected office.
Then in 1960 when the City of Naperville put its first liquor license laws on the books, they mirrored the state laws.
In 2005, a number of state representatives in Springfield decided that it was time for that state law to change.
At that time, a number of restaurant owners across the state were invited to be the example, providing testimony why the law should change and I was one of them. The new law, making it legal for an individual with a liquor license to hold office, passed by a wide margin. So at that time most local ordinances were updated automatically.
Since the City of Naperville is a home rule community, the city would have had to go through its own process of updating the law—and unknown to me, they had not.
So I was very surprised to find out in the ten years since the law was changed statewide that the Naperville law had not been updated.
Being a small part of the change in 2005, had I realized this oversight at the city, I would have worked to have the law updated years ago.
While I truly believe this was just a simple oversight, this law would need to be updated for me to able to renew my Liquor license next year and still be able to remain in office if I were elected to serve on the Naperville City Council.
Ethically, I personally have an issue asking for the Voters’ support not knowing if I can serve the whole term. I also don’t think it would be fair to the other candidates to take up valuable time during all of the candidate forums.
That being said, the current Naperville law would need to be updated prior to the election.
Unfortunately, I believe the current City Council is unlikely to correct this oversight prior to the election. Therefore, I believe the ethical thing for me to do is to suspend my campaign as a candidate for Naperville City Council in the 2015 Consolidated Election.
I will continue to work with city staff to have this law updated so that this inconsistent ruling with state law is not an issue in the future.
During a conversation after receipt of Bergeron’s statement, he added, “Even if some how the City Council looked at the ordinance at the next City Council meeting on February 17, they probably wouldn’t take action until at least March 17. That doesn’t leave much time before the April 7 election. I want to be fair to all the voters and the other candidates. I don’t want to be a distraction and take up valuable time during the forums.”
According to the DuPage County Board of Elections, Thurs. , Jan. 29, 2015, is the deadline for “Withdrawal of Candidacy – April 7, 2015, Consolidated Election,” to keep his name off the April ballot.
January 29 is the final day candidates may file Withdrawal of Candidacy in the office of the local election official or Election Commission. Bergeron likely missed the deadline and will appear on the ballot.
Update Jan. 30, 2015
Find PN’s 20 Questions with answers from all candidates for City Council as well as other local happenings at www.positivelynaperville.com.
The 20 City Council candidates, in ballot order, will be Kevin Coyne, Joe McElroy, Richard “Dick” Furstenau, Bill Eagan, Wayne Floegel, Robert Hajek, James “Jimmy” Bergeron**, John Krummen, Nancy J. Marinello, Paul Hinterlong, David G. Wentz, Patty Gustin, Judith Brodhead, Thomas O’Hale, John Colletti, Stephen M. Purduski, Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, Steve Peterson, Becky Anderson and Kevin Gallaher. Voters will elect eight (8). The four highest vote-getters will be elected to four-year terms; the others will be two-year terms. (**Suspended Candidacy)
Thanks for getting to know all the candidates for Naperville Mayor (four for one four-year seat), District 203 School Board (Uncontested three for three four-year seats) and District 204 School Board (Four for three four-year seats) and Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners (Four for three four-year seats) in advance of the April 7 Consolidated election during many planned public Meet & Greet Events.
Note that all candidates are welcome to submit public events/fundraisers for consideration on PN’s calendar. Many thanks to all the candidates for participating in the upcoming election.