Nine of the 11 Naperville City Council candidates running for four two-year terms oppose the election district system the city is preparing to implement in 2015.
Also on the April 9 ballot, however, is a referendum question aimed at reversing the results of a November 2010 referendum in which more than 28,000 residents voted to establish a ward-based system by 2015.
Council hopefuls were asked during a Wednesday night forum hosted by the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation which system they preferred.
Most, including the three incumbents seeking re-election, said they hope the current at-large system stays in place.
Kevin Coyne, a Naperville attorney and planning and zoning commissioner, said he’s afraid of the big city politics he believes come with wards.
“I am in full support of keeping all of our councilmen elected at large. As an attorney I have the opportunity to work with some of Chicago’s more prominent aldermen and I’ve gotten an up close look at how the alderman system works,” he said. “I think it causes an emphasis to spend more money to see how much you can get for your particular ward to get elected the next time around and I think that’s bad for Naperville.”
Incumbent Paul Hinterlong also prefers to remain in an at-large system.
“I think the system we have now works, The last three years in a row, we’ve reduced the city’s portion of your tax bill. I don’t know if we can maintain that with districts,” Hinterlong said. “And I don’t like that there’s four people I won’t be able to hold accountable because they’ll be in districts I don’t live in.”
Bill Habel, an electrical workers union representative, said he could not support something that divides the city.
“Anything that is exclusionary, that is not inclusive of the entire community, I’m against. So I am not in favor of the ward system,” Habel said. “It would be exclusionary to the community.”
Engineering consultant John Krummen said a district or ward system would have a negative effect on Naperville’s spirit.
“One of our greatest assets is our community spirit. Countless people and organizations volunteer. I don’t want to mess that up,” he said. “I am for keeping the at-large (system in place).”
Incumbent Doug Krause also supports the at-large system.
“I support at-large because we have everyone looking out for the good of the entire city,” Krause said. “If we move to ward system with five wards, there is potential to have five people elected from one ward. The bottom line here is that we spend $11.6 million on roads and each of these districts are different sizes so the only concern is how you divide that up.”
Current Naperville Public Library President Jeff Davis said he studied the issue several years ago when he served on the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I think at-large is the way to go. I think the city works well and I don’t see a need to change that.”
Incumbent Judith Brodhead also supports overturning the 2010 vote.
“I think it’s a system that works very well and the results of our recent citizen satisfaction survey shows there is no difference in satisfaction among residents of different areas of the city,” Brodhead said. “In the at-large system, each councilman has to listen to all voters.”
Naperville attorney Dave Wentz also hopes to see the system unchanged in 2015.
“The concern is that there are those who are looking at this as a way to divide and conquer Naperville,” Wentz said. “My concern is this is more of a special interest group that has some kind of agenda and wants to get on and get in and not necessarily represent the best interests of all of Naperville.”
Wayne Floegel, a member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Board, is also voting to remain in an at-large system.
“It’s important for our city to maintain the way it’s been run for many, many years and we’ve never had a problem.”
Two candidates, however, believe the will of the 2010 voters is being trampled by the question on the April 9 ballot.
Jo Malik, a local small business owner, disagreed with the question all together.
“The question really should be ‘Are you for or against what was voted on by 64 percent of the residents of Naperville,’” Malik said. “A two-to-one margin said they wanted districts. Now that it’s coming up for a revote in a municipal election, where less people can overturn it than voted no originally, I think that’s wrong.”
Tom Glass, president of a metal finishing company, also said the 2010 vote should stand.
“The people already voted on this and the city did everything they could to delay implementation so already we’re voting to reverse the will of the people,” Glass said. “We should implement the hybrid system that the people voted for and see how that works before we bring this back during an election that will have a poor turnout.”
To see all our coverage of the Naperville City Council race, including candidate bios, go to http://www.dailyherald.com/news/politics/election/race/Naperville-City-Council/.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.