Naperville leadership transitions to new Mayor Chirico

 
 
Updated 5/3/2015 9:24 PM
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  • Judge Robert G. Gibson swears in new Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico as his wife, Julie, stands by his side at his inauguration Sunday in the city council chambers. Behind him are his children and grandchildren, and Chirico's mother, former Naperville resident Phillis Chirico of Williamston, Mich.

      Judge Robert G. Gibson swears in new Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico as his wife, Julie, stands by his side at his inauguration Sunday in the city council chambers. Behind him are his children and grandchildren, and Chirico's mother, former Naperville resident Phillis Chirico of Williamston, Mich. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Former Naperville Mayor George Pradel shakes the hand of newly sworn-in Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico before handing him the gavel Sunday during an inauguration ceremony in the city council chambers.

      Former Naperville Mayor George Pradel shakes the hand of newly sworn-in Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico before handing him the gavel Sunday during an inauguration ceremony in the city council chambers. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Flanked by son Austin Chirico of Dillon, Colorado, left, and stepson Jonathan Cole of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., new Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, center, huddles with the rest of his immediate family Sunday after being sworn in to his new position.

      Flanked by son Austin Chirico of Dillon, Colorado, left, and stepson Jonathan Cole of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., new Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, center, huddles with the rest of his immediate family Sunday after being sworn in to his new position. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Outgoing Naperville Mayor George Pradel receives a standing ovation from fellow council members Doug Krause and Paul Hinterlong after giving his farewell speech Sunday during an inauguration ceremony for new Mayor Steve Chirico and new council members.

      Outgoing Naperville Mayor George Pradel receives a standing ovation from fellow council members Doug Krause and Paul Hinterlong after giving his farewell speech Sunday during an inauguration ceremony for new Mayor Steve Chirico and new council members. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Former Naperville Mayor George Pradel steps down from leading the city before new Mayor Steve Chirico steps forward and takes his oath of office Sunday during a city council inauguration ceremony. Chirico and council members gave Pradel an honorary gavel on a plaque in thanks for his "steadfast devotion, decades of service and love for this community."

      Former Naperville Mayor George Pradel steps down from leading the city before new Mayor Steve Chirico steps forward and takes his oath of office Sunday during a city council inauguration ceremony. Chirico and council members gave Pradel an honorary gavel on a plaque in thanks for his "steadfast devotion, decades of service and love for this community." Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • New Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico takes his seat for the first time after being sworn in Sunday at the city council chambers.

      New Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico takes his seat for the first time after being sworn in Sunday at the city council chambers. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • New Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico addresses a crowd of roughly 300 Sunday after being sworn in to his leadership post. Chirico succeeds former Mayor George Pradel, who stepped down Sunday after 20 years leading the city.

      New Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico addresses a crowd of roughly 300 Sunday after being sworn in to his leadership post. Chirico succeeds former Mayor George Pradel, who stepped down Sunday after 20 years leading the city. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • New Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and new council members sworn in Sunday adjourn their first meeting in front of about 300 people gathered in the city council chambers.

      New Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and new council members sworn in Sunday adjourn their first meeting in front of about 300 people gathered in the city council chambers. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

It was an occasion for suits and dresses, hugs and handshakes, smiles and applause, and old and new on Sunday, as Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico took the reins from outgoing Mayor George Pradel.

During a well-attended inauguration ceremony at the municipal center, Chirico and Pradel exchanged gavels as a sign of the first transition in mayoral power since 1995.

Pradel, who led Naperville for 20 years as its population grew from 85,000 to 145,000, handed over the wooden mallet to be used during meetings.

Chirico, elected mayor last month after serving four years on the city council, doled out a shiny gavel on a plaque thanking Pradel for his "steadfast devotion, decades of service and love for this community."

The outgoing leader couldn't hide his emotions.

He squinted away tears while Crone Middle School student Aleks Lazic, who is going through chemotherapy, sung the national anthem. He gave a fist pump to the Naperville Fire Department's honor guard as members presented the colors with pipes and drums. And Pradel took one long pause during his final speech as mayor to avoid breaking down.

"It's my time to say farewell," Pradel said, thanking the community for putting its collective trust in him. "I hope that I've had a little part in helping some young person in this world. That's all I really wanted to do was have an opportunity to be with a group that would make a difference. And we have made a difference, I think."

After an extended standing ovation for the man affectionately known as "Naperville's cheerleader," Chirico took his oath and stepped onto the center of an empty dais. Then the newly elected council members filled in next to him.

"This is a tremendously talented group of people," Chirico said about the eight council members seated to his left and right. "We're all here because we love Naperville."

Joining Chirico as Naperville's elected leaders are returning council members Paul Hinterlong and Judith Brodhead, and former council member Kevin Gallaher. Five new faces also were sworn in to join the panel Sunday: Patricia Gustin, Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, Becky Anderson, Kevin Coyne and John Krummen.

With cameras flashing, each new council member praised the talents of the others and committed to working as a team to make the best decisions for the city.

The sweeping change in the makeup of the council was the result of an unusual election in which the terms for all eight council seats and the mayoral post expired at once.

Former council members Doug Krause, Robert Fieseler, Joesph McElroy and David Wentz left the council Sunday after being recognized for their years of service ranging from Krause's 26 years to Wentz's two.

The new council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to begin addressing business, including a potential new restaurant planned for the Freedom Plaza development on the city's north side.

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