Wheaton council members announce mayoral bids
Wheaton voters will elect the city's first new mayor in 12 years next spring, and two city council veterans already have announced bids for the post.
Mayor Michael Gresk is stepping down after three terms, clearing the path for a new leader to take the city's helm.
John Prendiville and Phil Suess have emerged as the first two mayoral candidates seeking to succeed Gresk, who first was elected in 2007.
Prendiville served on the council from 2007 to 2011 and again since 2013 after an unsuccessful run to unseat Gresk as mayor. His at-large seat on the council also is up for election in April 2019.
Suess ran unopposed last year to retain his seat representing the North District. His fourth term on the council doesn't expire until 2021.
Councilwoman Suzanne Fitch said Wednesday she intends to seek re-election to the other at-large seat.
Candidates will begin filing their nominating petitions for the city's municipal offices in November.
Prendiville is the managing director and senior managing counsel for The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, a firm that acts as a trustee for municipal bond issues. If elected, he said his background will serve him in helping to keep the city on "very good financial footing" since Wheaton weathered the economic recession.
"The type of work I've done in the legal world is not adversarial. I've always been part of transactions where people are working together toward a common goal," he said.
That consensus-building work will translate to leading city council meetings that, under Gresk, are orderly and on track, Prendiville said.
"I want to be a leader of this intelligent and dedicated group," Prendiville said of his council colleagues.
In his last mayoral run as Gresk's challenger, Prendiville said he visited "at least 80 percent of homes" of municipal election voters. But he said Gresk "deservedly" had "a tremendous amount of support." Gresk captured 57 percent of the vote.
"I wasn't running against him. I was just running because I was a little bit ambitious there," Prendiville said.
Suess is a partner in an investment consulting firm. He said his 14-year tenure on the council makes him the best candidate for the office.
"I just think it's the consistency of positions over time," said Suess, who has lived in Wheaton for 30 years. "I've been a very strong advocate of living with the money we have."
He's also sat on the DuPage Water Commission board for the past eight years. Wheaton is the second-largest customer of the agency that supplies Lake Michigan water to most of the towns in DuPage County.
"I joined that commission in August of 2010 when they were basically in the depth of their problems with respect to their debt and have been part of the team that has turned around the water commission since January of 2011," Suess said.
Fitch said she's running for a second term to continue addressing flooding and economic development issues as the council's liaison to the Downtown Wheaton Association, a group of shops and restaurants.
An attorney, Fitch highlighted her push for a new program to install sidewalks in neighborhoods for kids to walk safely to and from school. She also was a vocal supporter of lowering the speed limit on residential streets from 30 mph to 25 mph. The new limit went into effect Aug. 1.
"I've been responsive to resident concerns, and I've really taken the time to engage the residents to address their issues," Fitch said.
Filing paperwork is expected to become available through the city clerk's office later this month.