Naperville mayor candidate Krause suggests finding new city manager
Naperville mayoral candidate Doug Krause says it could be time to look into hiring a new top administrator to replace Doug Krieger, who has held the city manager position since December 2008.
"Most of the city managers' livelihood is usually about five years. It's rare to go over that," Krause said during an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald. "Personally, I think we should review the possibility of having a new city manager to address the new current issues that are coming up.
"We made it through with the financial background of Doug (Krieger), but I think we have other issues that need to be addressed now and we need someone who has a little bit more managerial skills."
Krause, a 67-year-old real estate broker, was the only mayoral candidate even critical of Krieger.
Krieger said Tuesday the city is running smoothly under his leadership as he works closely with Mayor George Pradel, who is not seeking another term in the April 7 election.
"From a city operations standpoint, I think things are going extremely well. At the helm I've seen the city through the worst recession in recent history and seen us continue to grow," Krieger said. "I have worked through a number of budgetary issues both on the governmental side as well as the utility side and I would say our intergovernmental relations are better now than any time I've seen in the last 10 years."
Candidates Steve Chirico, Jim Haselhorst and Marty Walker said the city should retain Krieger as city manager, and they offered various levels of support for his work.
"I think it'd be a big mistake to make a change in that office," Chirico said. "I think he's done a really good job ... He comes in energetic. He's dependable, he's accountable, he's reliable and he's trustworthy."
But Krause said Krieger could improve in communication and organization of city departments, some of which have been combined.
For example, the city clerk's office is also in charge of information technology, which Krause says is not the department's expertise. And some of the city's computer systems are outdated, requiring employees to create workarounds so the programs they use can function. Krause said the council only recently has been informed of these problems.
"We need more communication between the city manager and the council, and the council is the only one who gets to hire or fire that individual," said Krause, who has worked with four city managers during his 26 years on the council. "I think he needs to be held accountable."
Krieger said a contract employee has been hired for two years to help run the IT department, and the city is working on a multimillion dollar technology improvement to be put in place during the next two to three years. But the systems are complex.
"It's more important that we get it done right than get it done fast," Krieger said.
Chirico, a 54-year-old business owner who has been on the council for four years, said the city manager's job is to implement policies set by the council. In the case of the computer systems, the council set a budget that didn't include money for upgrades. Krieger has honored council decisions and deserves to keep his job as long as he wants it, Chirico said.
"In my mind he's done an outstanding job. He's highly regarded by the community, by the staff," Chirico said. "If you look at where Naperville is from a financial standpoint, he's done a superb job. The staff in general has a very high morale right now."
Walker and Haselhorst said they have less direct experience working with Krieger.
Walker, a 62-year-old retired fire lieutenant, said his dealings with Krieger all have been positive, but he's only communicated with the city manager while he was planning Ribfest in 2013 or leading the city's Sept. 11 remembrance ceremonies.
Haselhorst, a 55-year-old dental practice manager, said Krieger is "well-respected" in the community and well-liked by employees.
"Those are things you just don't throw out the window quickly," Haselhorst said. "When you've got the trust and the morale there, that's a big factor in succeeding in any initiative you set."