Former Lisle Mayor Joe Broda says he long suspected that resident Dave Nelson was behind the mysterious 2017 push to merge Warrenville, Woodridge and Lisle with Naperville.
But until legal documents emerged this week in Will County court naming Nelson as the man behind the failed annexation effort, he couldn't be sure.
"We wanted to find out who was behind it," Broda said Wednesday. "The public had a right to know who was behind it."
Now, he said, "the truth has been told."
Broda said he suspected the former village clerk candidate was involved because Nelson raised the issue of merging communities during an October 2016 meeting with Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.
While he acknowledged meeting with Chirico, Nelson previously denied any involvement in trying to get referendum questions on the April 2017 ballot and said he opposed the merger idea.
On Wednesday, Chirico said he wasn't surprised to learn Nelson was behind the referendum push.
"I assumed it was him," he said.
Nelson could not be reached for comment Wednesday but previously said he reached out to Chirico because he was trying to find ways to lower property taxes in Lisle.
Chirico said Nelson told him he thought the merger idea would benefit the area.
"I told him that would be an enormously difficult task," Chirico said.
He also told Nelson he wasn't convinced merging the towns would be more efficient.
Chirico said there was no follow-up meeting.
But early last year, people began collecting signatures to put referendum questions on the spring ballot in Lisle, Warrenville and Woodridge to ask residents if they wanted to annex into Naperville. Some of those who collected the signatures were from Chicago and refused to say who they were working for.
Broda, Chirico and the mayors of Woodridge and Warrenville, meanwhile, all said they opposed the idea because it would be costly, complicated and likely to affect other units of government and the way services are delivered.
On Wednesday, Warrenville Mayor David Brummel said there was an upside to the controversy sparked by the merger talk.
"It made people realize how much they like their community," Brummel said. "There's a loyalty to the place you live, and there's a culture that you appreciate. That's why you live there."