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updated: 4/14/2011 4:46 PM

New council members eager to start in Naperville

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  • Steve Chirico

    Steve Chirico

  • Joe McElroy

    Joe McElroy


While they were on the campaign trail, the April 5 election couldn't come soon enough.

Now Naperville's two new city council members want to fast forward to their first meeting on May 3.

Steve Chirico and Joe McElroy finished second and fourth, respectively, in the race for four seats on the Naperville City Council and they're each ready to claim their posts along with returning incumbents Grant Wehrli and Robert Fieseler.

"As a new councilman, I understand I'll have a break-in period and a lot to learn. So I'll do my best to listen," Chirico said. "But I'm no slouch. I want to hit ground with my feet running."

McElroy said he's starting to learn the depth of the position.

"During an election, it's easy to have slogans that propose simple solutions for problems but once you're in, it doesn't take long to look at things and find out that there are at least two sides to every story," McElroy said. "Often you find out more information and realize the situation is more complicated than initially thought. I'm looking forward to digging in and answering some of those questions."

Both expect the answers to some of those questions may lie with Councilman James Boyajian, who is retiring, and Councilman Dick Furstenau, who lost his re-election bid.

"I love the mix of what we've got on the council after the election and I think we're going to be a very productive group," Chirico said. "And both of the outgoing guys have a tremendous amount of knowledge that I plan on tapping into to help me understand different aspects of this job."

Mayor George Pradel, who was elected for a city-record fifth term, is ready to welcome both men.

"I'm looking forward to working with these guys because they're both gentlemen and they know their stuff," Pradel said. "They won't have to prove themselves because they're well-educated and they know what they want to do. It's a team effort here and they'll both be a big part of the team."

Both men already have decided the areas they'd like to focus on during their rookie year.

"I have a growing interest in addressing issues that concern our older neighborhoods because things wear out and need replacement," McElroy said. "I'd also like to dig into the revenue side of economic development and work on growing a bigger pie from which to generate more revenue."

Chirico has asked Pradel to let him help with economic development, and the city's Smart Grid initiative. Being a local businessman, he also expects to get drawn into the financial side of the city operation.

"The finance component is something I'm good at but I'm sure it will take a while to school up," Chirico said. "But I anticipate it will be easier for me than a lot of people that are dealing with it. The city deals with a lot of moving parts and a lot of numbers,"

As the May 1 inauguration and their first city council meeting two days later near, both also have some expectations and butterflies.

"My expectations are that I will do my very best and do what's right for the city even though I'll often make some people unhappy," McElroy said. "You just have to understand that no matter what you decide, one side will not be happy so I need to do best for the city long term and hope people understand."

Chirico, however, likened May 3 to a rookie who has just been promoted to the Major Leagues.

"I'm excited to get in and I have a decent idea of what to expect from the pitcher," Chirico said. "So when that first vote comes I'm going to have to step up to the plate and decide whether to swing."