The election for four seats on the Naperville City Council is April 4th, with early voting at Naperville City Hall from March 20th through April 3rd. This election is important. All too often, the people we elect to represent us take us for granted. This is our chance to tell them that we matter. A total of eight candidates are running, four incumbents and four challengers. Our thoughts on the candidates are below.
Judy Brodhead. Eight years on Council with nothing accomplished. Follows the mayor, loves to talk about time spent on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Rarely if ever responds to resident emails and deletes written messages she doesn’t care to address. Has done nothing to earn a vote for City Council.
Our thought: Zombie Council member absolutely does NOT deserve our vote.
Kevin Coyne. Deserves credit for mentioning specifics: 1.) Committed to financial principles; 2.) Consolidating government and sharing costs; 3.) Rein in our real estate tax levy. Mentioning, however, is not accomplishing. On 1.) Financial Principles, the budget has been the equivalent of a shell game for the past two years, with ‘kicking the can down the road’ to try to get elected. On 2.) consolidating government, we believe analysis should be conducted upfront and taxpayers given the complete, unvarnished truth on the effects of any contemplated consolidation. That did not occur on the proposed binding referendum on road district consolidation. As far as 3.) Rein in the real estate tax levy, the 2016 overall levy was reduced (levy for pensions increased, levy for the City decreased) while refuse fees were increased from $2 per month to $12.65 per month (over $5 million a year) and a new sales tax was implemented to raise $8.5 million. To point to real estate taxes while ignoring raising other taxes and fees (including water and electric) and implementing a new tax seems pretty selective to us.
Our thought: Absolutely does NOT deserve our vote.
Kevin Gallaher. A wild card. While that’s not necessarily bad, it’s not clear what he stands for, while his positions seem firmly rooted in soft, shifting sand. Has been condescending and rude to residents. Brings no benefit to the Council.
Our thought: A strong does NOT deserve our vote.
John Krummen. Former Smart Meter Ambassador, claiming savings and efficiencies still not realized under the highly controversial program. Likes to tout his engineering and financial background, from which we have yet to see any benefit. We’ve noticed numerous instances in which these skills should have but did not come into play. He is either overstating his expertise or unwilling to ask the hard questions. Either way, no benefit to the City. Not a bad guy, just no reason to vote for him.
Our thought: Does NOT deserve our vote.
Julie Berkowicz. First time candidate for office, 20+ year resident with extensive history of volunteer and civic involvement. Not a packaged candidate with money and influence fueling her campaign. Will work independent of the current Council’s status quo of increasing spending and taxes. Promises to raise transparency on the issue of the City’s unfunded pension obligations, which were $157 million as of December 31, 2015, an increase of $41 million from the prior year, a topic no incumbent mentions. No ulterior motives to become a council member – no personal business and no past affiliations with the mayor or existing council. Has independent views on many issues and wants to incorporate the voices of the citizens.
Our thought: A definite YES vote for Julie Berkowicz.
Mike Isaac. Successful business owner who seems to have experienced a meteoric rise in the local, insider political circle. Thirteen year Naperville resident first registered to vote in Illinois in 2014, and voted for the first time in November of that year. Since then, Mr. Isaac, his businesses and extended family have contributed significant money to political campaigns. In 2015, Mayor Chirico expanded the Financial Advisory Board in order to put Mr. Isaac on it, a move which drew attention and opposition.
His Council candidacy garnered further attention from animal rights activists and humane ordinance proponents. Has mastered the art of replying without answering. Money and insider influence driving his campaign. Smooth political type that by all indication will closely follow the Mayor and Council majority.
Our thought: Absolutely will NOT vote for Mike Isaac.
Mike Strick. Long-time Naperville resident, local business owner for over 20 years, active in the community, youth and social programs. Promises focus of “a fiscal watchdog and controlling our spending.” We’re pleased to see a candidate recognize City finances as a priority. Appears he would bring a common sense approach to City Council, focused on City finances, taxes and spending. Seems willing to ask hard questions yet approachable and open minded. Has also raised the growing unfunded pension liability issue. Would be a welcome addition to City Council.
Our thought: A definite YES vote for Mike Strick.
Benny White. Graduate of West Point, 22 year veteran of the United States Army. Has lived in Naperville for 11 years. Indian Prairie District 204 board member since 2012, appointed by the Mayor to the Police and Fire Commission in 2015. Identified priorities include fiscal responsibility, lowering property taxes, economic development, and focusing efforts on under-utilized corridors along Ogden Avenue and I-88. Seems to be disciplined, thoughtful, and well intentioned. Our concern is the consistent tax increases in District 204 and closeness to the Mayor.
Our thought: We’re neutral on Benny White.
We believe two candidates deserve a vote: Julie Berkowicz and Mike Strick. New, independent voices on City Council would be a welcome addition to the difficult decisions coming in the budget cycle later this year. We believe their backgrounds and experience indicate a willingness and ability to work on those issues for the residents of Naperville.
We believe three candidates absolutely do not deserve a vote: Judy Brodhead, Kevin Coyne and Mike Isaac. We believe the other incumbents also do not deserve a vote, and we’re neutral on Benny White.
So what do we do in an election for four seats with only two favorable candidates? ‘Bullet vote’ for the two preferred candidates. There is no requirement to vote for more candidates than one wants to see elected, and to do so could hurt the chances of the preferred candidates. Historically, the April election following a presidential election is one of low voter turnout. If that holds true this election, a strong turnout of voters determined to make a difference can have a significant impact.
We believe in Naperville. It is a great city, a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. Together we can change Naperville for the better.
Please join us.