Though many major intersections are planted with an array of colorful campaigns signs, few streets display as many different signs of the times all in a row as were exhibited during the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce “Meet the Candidates Expo,” held Thursday at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, 305 W. Jackson Ave.
Every candidate running for local office in the Consolidated Election on April 9 was invited to have a tabletop display that came with opportunities to meet potential voters face to face.
For two hours, a steady stream of interested residents, though light in number, engaged more than two dozen candidates in lively conversations about the issues and received campaign literature from the hopefuls.
Earlier in the day, the Naperville Area Chamber Political Action Committee had announced its selection of endorsements for the upcoming election. Those candidates were identified at the expo with NACPAC placards. NACPAC embraces the framework, values and positions of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. Accordingly, candidates were evaluated based on their knowledge, expertise and familiarity with the Chamber and key economic issues. “Fiscal responsibility” resounded from many conversations throughout the event.
Mindful of progress in recovering from the recession and a growing local economy, the NACPAC “encourages voters to elect candidates who will build on this momentum” to sustain the quality of life for residents and businesses in Naperville, according the Mike Evans, president & CEO of the Chamber.
After individually interviewing most candidates, the board of directors of NACPAC selected candidates based on ideas to support business growth, economic development and job creation. NACPAC endorses Jeff B. Davis, Kevin Coyne, Judy Brodhead and Paul Hinterlong for City Council; Benny White, Mike Raczak, Cathy Piehl and Krishna Bansal for School District 204 Board of Education; and Jackie Romberg, Kristin Fitzgerald and Charles Cush for School District 203 Board of Education.
Four members of the Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners, Gerry Heide, Kirsten Young, Mike Reilly and Bill Eagan are running unopposed.
Several candidates running to serve on townships as well as the COD Board of Trustees also set up table tops.
In February, the NACC also reiterated its position regarding the ballot measure to preserve the at-large election of City Council. In a letter to its membership, Evans again recommended a “yes” vote to retain the at-large system of electing individuals to the Naperville City Council at the April 9 election. Citizens have the option to retain the at-large system by voting yes on a referendum question that asks, “Shall the city of Naperville elect city council at large instead of part of the councilmen at large and part of the councilmen from districts?”
The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce is the largest suburban Chamber in Illinois with an active membership of 1,400 organizations of every size and from every sector. Throughout the year, members can participate in more than 400 briefings, committee gatherings, events, and programs annually. Chamber programming provides leadership for the benefit of region’s business community by promoting economic growth and advocating the interests of business.
“Meet the Candidates” is one of many programs hosted by the Chamber’s Legislative Committee during the local election cycle every two years. To keep on top of local, state and federal issues and policy-making, the Legislative Committee meets monthly for lunch from 11:30AM-1PM on the second Monday at the Hotel Arista in CityGate Centre.
PN’s Election Central / Voters Guide
PN’s Election Central Voters Guide features links to all candidates upon their request, a link to the League of Women Voters, as well as other endorsements that publicly have been announced in the media. Videos from the candidate forums also are linked, ready for viewing around the clock.
PN’s aim during every election campaign since 2001 has been to encourage voters to personally meet the candidates who make themselves accessible so our city’s educated electorate can go to the polls with knowledge of what distinguishes the candidates.
Our View for At-Large City Council Representation
In 1969, voters in the City of Naperville elected its City Council-Manager form of government. Ever since, the City Council and the Mayor have been elected at large by citizens eligible to vote. Sometimes voter turn out is heavy. Other times it’s been light. Most of us have to admit, our city runs pretty well, our city is safe, our city budget is balanced and our citizens have plenty of opinions.
When the initiative to study the hybrid system of electing City Council was launched in June 2010, we welcomed the study (it’s been studied two other times since 1969), mostly because the Naperville Voter Education League (as the group later was to develop and be titled), also proposed to study term limits. (We have long been a supporter of term limits for all governing bodies.) That summer, the City Council seated at the time placed term limits on the November ballot. Term limits for City Council (three, four-year terms) begin in the mayoral election of 2015. That’s why City Council candidates this election are running for two-year terms.
The short history since 2010 is a long story. To tell it briefly, the NVEL petitioned the city to place the hybrid system question on the ballot. We attended numerous meetings, forums and debates regarding informing the electorate. Most were attended by an outspoken few. Members of the League of Women Voters, homeowners associations, and residents with first-hand experience of living in cities with district representation openly offered pros and cons to districts. One informative debate by Naperville high school students was televised.
On the day of the Gubernatorial Election in November 2010, three questions appeared on the Naperville ballot. Voters approved by a 2/3 majority the binding referendum to establish five districts and three at large positions for representation on the Naperville City Council. Term limits for City Council also passed. Voters also said “yes” to an advisory question about pension reform.
During the many months that followed, the City staff held six open houses for input regarding districts. That history with maps is available at www.naperville.il.us.
In late November 2012, a group known as “Yes at Large” filed petitions to put a referendum question on the April 2013 ballot. An Objector came forward. Several hearings and an appeal later, the question will appear on the ballot. The Appellate Court brief was filed March 20, 2013, and the Objector has a week to reply. Then the Appellate Court will consider the matter and is expected to make a decision before the election.
Both the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune ran stories about City Council candidate’s positions on At Large vs. Districts. Nine of the 11 candidates support at large. Every candidate’s answer (near the end of the video) and many other answers can be viewed in the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation forum from March 13.
Naperville thrives from a large network of volunteer citizens who serve on boards and commissions and local governing bodies as well as nonprofit social service agencies. Our quality of life is supported by members of many service clubs, faith organizations, homeowners associations and community groups, etc. This city welcomes folks to become involved and to participate at all levels from planning to attending events that raise private funds to meet many unmet needs.
We have weighed the many pros and cons as well as unintended consequences of dividing our city into the five districts that have been drawn, ready for implementation in 2015. We continue to prefer preserving at-large representation because we’ve yet to be convinced there are strong benefits to change. Constructive comments about pros and cons are welcomed below.
Ironically, the only district now drawn on the map without a City Council member at the moment is District 1 where we are located. During our 20-year residency in Naperville, we always have appreciated representation by all members of the City Council.