Naperville's Pradel named first mayor emeritus
Former Naperville Mayor George Pradel has been named the city's first mayor emeritus, but not without some inside baseball about whether and how the honorary position should be created.
All city council members said they agreed with the sentiment of recognizing Pradel and giving him a title from which to continue volunteering to represent the city at ceremonial events, as he has done so frequently for the past two decades.
"Mayor Pradel is agreeable to volunteering and providing some sort of coverage with respect for Mayor Chirico," council member Patty Gustin said. "It allows the current mayor some more flexibility with his time."
But council members Rebecca Boyd-Obarski and Paul Hinterlong voted against a resolution that created the position.
"I think this is an honorary position. My concern was that we start creating a position with duties," Boyd-Obarski said. "We might be creating something that we don't need."
The resolution creates the honorary position of "mayor emeritus" specifically for Pradel and only for as long as Steve Chirico, who proposed the position, is mayor. As mayor rmeritus, Pradel, 77, is envisioned to act as a "goodwill ambassador" for the city at ceremonial functions, and to do so without a salary or a budget.
Hinterlong said creating an emeritus position for Pradel could start a precedent; if Pradel is an emeritus, why aren't other former city council members or mayors given that designation, he asked.
But council member Becky Anderson said she thinks Pradel's is a special case. He's the city's longest-serving mayor who also worked nearly 30 years as a police officer and became known as "Officer Friendly." Anderson called Pradel Naperville's "favored son."
"I think this is a one-time deal; it's not something that will continue on," Anderson said. "I think for this individual (Pradel), we can totally make this an honorary position."
Hinterlong said no one was bashing Pradel by opposing the creation of the honorary emeritus position.
"Everyone loves the guy," Hinterlong said. "It's just a description that maybe we're fumbling over."
Fumbling aside, the position was created and will expire when Chirico leaves office.
Pradel was not in the audience during Tuesday's city council meeting to accept the designation of mayor emeritus. But he meets twice weekly with Chirico to plan which events he will attend in his voluntary, ceremonial role and which functions Chirico will attend in his official role as mayor.