A candidate for Lisle village clerk, Dave Nelson, says he raised the issue of merging his community with three others during an October meeting with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico but now opposes the idea.
Nelson insisted Monday he and members of his political slate weren't behind a failed push to place referendum questions on the spring ballot to ask voters in Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge if they want to merge with Naperville.
He said his talk with Chirico "was more of an exploratory conversation."
"I asked him what he thought about consolidating the cities," Nelson said. "He said he had some concerns about it."
Nelson, who will face Kim Brondyke in the April 4 election, said he believes it would be "a bad idea" to annex Lisle and the other towns to Naperville.
Still, incumbents in the Lisle village board race are accusing Nelson and other members of his Prosperity for Lisle slate of pushing the merger idea in the first place.
"They talk about transparency," Trustee Anthony Carballo said during a Monday endorsement interview with the Daily Herald. "But they are the group of people that are responsible for even bringing this annexation issue up."
Seven candidates are seeking three 4-year trustee terms on the village board, including three challengers running as part of a slate with Nelson and a village president hopeful.
Carballo is running with fellow incumbents Brad Hettich and Christy McGovern. The Prosperity for Lisle trustee candidates are Marie Hasse, Kelly Dixit and Albert Lazaro.
The seventh candidate, Kristy Grau, is running as an independent.
Nelson's name came up during Monday's endorsement session when all the trustee candidates said they oppose merger plans.
McGovern provided the Daily Herald with a printed copy of an Oct. 19 email that Nelson sent to Chirico. In the note, Nelson thanked the mayor for meeting with him that day.
"I really do like the work you mentioned on firefighting costs with Woodridge, Lisle, Warrenville, and Naperville," Nelson wrote. "Our thinking is to combine the municipalities ..."
He then listed several possible benefits of merging the towns, including reducing the number of elected bodies and combining municipal services to reduce costs.
On Monday, Chirico said Nelson told him he was representing "an active group of residents" who were interested in the annexation issue.
"I told him that's a very big bite to try to take," Chirico said.
Nelson said he reached out to Chirico because he was trying to find ways to lower property taxes in Lisle. After the two chatted, there was no follow-up.
"We haven't met since," Chirico said.
Lazaro, one of the Prosperity for Lisle candidates for trustee, said "there's no way" his group was involved in the failed attempt to get the merger question on the April 4 ballot.
"If I wanted Lisle to be part of Naperville, I would move to Naperville," Lazaro said. "There's no way that I would vote for anything like that. There's no way our group was part of that."
While the question won't appear on the April ballots, still unnamed supporters of the idea are planning to pursue another annexation referendum proposal, according to their attorney.
That Chicago-based attorney, Frank Avila, has done work for the Prosperity for Lisle slate.
Nelson said the individuals Avila is representing with the annexation effort "are acting on their own."
He said he knows who they are but can't reveal their identities or where they live. "They asked me not to say," he said.