I have always looked forward to sharing my thoughts in this monthly column, and even though my title is no longer State Representative Grant Wehrli, I’m still a life-long Naperville resident with roots in this community that date back to the 1840s, during the years when the first plat of Naperville was drawn by our community’s founder Joseph Naper. I’ve also been a public servant in one capacity or another for my entire adult life here. The publishers of Positively Naperville have been kind enough to allow me to transition this space into a more community-centered column.
With that in mind, I will pivot this column away from all things Springfield and will focus more on current events, growing up in Naperville, how the community has changed, my favorite leisure activities (which is pretty much anything outdoors), and happy stories that remind us all of how lucky we are to live in this amazing city. I’ll still weigh in on politics when appropriate, but again, it will no longer be the focal point of the column.
I would be remiss if I did not weigh in on the violence and vandalism that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6. Just as I was furious when looters and vandals took aim at our downtown Naperville storefronts last year, I watched in horror as extremists and vandals attacked the seat of our nation’s democracy.
Elected officials from across the political spectrum were quick to denounce the violence and vandalism, and I share their calls for swift and harsh criminal penalties for those who chose violence and destruction over peaceful protesting. Our country’s leaders have an obligation to make an example out of these thugs by prosecuting each one of them to the fullest extent of the law. Washington is the beating heart of America’s democracy. People must know in no uncertain terms that we will not tolerate disrespect toward our founding principles and the symbol of our freedom.
I also saw photos of the Illinois Capitol – the architectural gem of our state – with windows boarded up. National guardsmen and women were on high alert and military vehicles lined the perimeter the building. The sight made me incredibly sad. Is this what rock bottom looks like?
But today I write this as a new President is sworn into office. It is a new day, fresh with possibilities. While I expect I will have differences of opinion with President Biden, I do wish him success as he takes office during one our darkest times our country has ever faced. Good luck to you, Mr. President.