Naperville mayoral candidates promise changes in liquor enforcement
Naperville night-life fans take note: One candidate for mayor promises to be a more "aggressive" liquor commissioner and another says he'll make sure all liquor laws are actively enforced.
Marty Walker said he would "act a little bit more aggressively" as liquor commissioner than George Pradel has during his 20 years in the role.
Doug Krause, meanwhile, said the top thing he would do differently than Pradel is take a stronger stance as liquor commissioner "to make sure we enforce the laws that are on the books."
Walker and Krause, along with Jim Haselhorst and Steve Chirico, are running in the April 7 election to replace Pradel and become Naperville's next mayor.
All four say they would act differently than Pradel as the leader of the liquor commission. Changes are necessary, candidates say, because excessive downtown drinking has contributed to problems during the past several years that have included fights, a fatal stabbing and a fatal crash into a water-filled quarry.
Walker, a 62-year-old retired firefighter, said he would appoint new members to the liquor commission for "fresh blood," monitor the effects of new bar regulations enacted last fall and punish bar owners who are causing problems. Police, he said, do a good job of identifying who those problem bar owners are.
"I personally do not want Naperville to be known as the Rush Street of the suburbs," Walker said. "We can't let that type of atmosphere destroy a world-class city."
Krause, a 67-year-old real estate broker and city council member, said Naperville has the laws to better control the downtown drinking environment, including those enacted last year that regulate beer sizes, shot sales, drink specials, late-night bar entry and security training.
"Anybody that violates any of those laws -- they need to suffer the necessary consequences," Krause said. "One of the problems that we've had with our downtown situation is not enforcing the laws there and going after those who are causing the problems."
Haselhorst, a 55-year-old dental practice manager, agreed more enforcement is necessary. First, he said, the city must clearly document liquor license violations as they occur.
"If we're going to enforce -- I think we should -- we just need to make sure we have a system in place that we can document the violation and prove it in court and make it stick," Haselhorst said. "Otherwise we lose credibility."
Chirico, a 54-year-old business owner and city council member, said consistency is key in managing bars and restaurants as liquor commissioner.
"I think Mayor Pradel did a pretty good job with that, he just lacks a little bit of consistency," Chirico said. "He doesn't want to hurt people; he doesn't want to upset people and he's not a controversial guy. So it was a difficult job for him."
Explaining expectations clearly and imposing consequences fairly is "something I'm good at," Chirico said. "When you're bringing down judgment, you have to take a measured approach."