DuPage board adds to mission statement: All are welcome here

  • Dan Cronin

    Dan Cronin

Updated 11/13/2019 3:27 PM

Republicans and Democrats on the DuPage County Board put aside their political differences this week to speak out against racism and hate in response to a recent confrontation at a Naperville restaurant.

The 18-member board voted unanimously Tuesday to update the county government's mission statement where it describes DuPage's communities to include the phrase "where all are welcomed, accepted and valued."


Chairman Dan Cronin sought the amendment after news broke about an Oct. 26 case in which a multiracial group of 18 diners was asked to switch seats because two white customers did not want to sit next to them at Buffalo Wild Wings on 75th Street.

"As I read and watched news accounts of the recent incident at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Naperville, I was determined to let the public know that we as leaders are determined to confront -- as many times as needed -- the issue of racism," Cronin said.

The Oak Brook Republican said the mission statement "guides all of our work," so he wanted it updated to demonstrate a commitment to equal treatment and equal opportunity.

"I want the world to know that we reject the appalling actions of a few," Cronin said.

The diners -- six adults and 12 children -- say a host at the restaurant asked "what race are you?" while the group's table was being prepared, explaining that it mattered because their table was next to two longtime customers who didn't want to be near black people. The group took their seats. But then, after two managers had conversations with the group and the white customers, the families decided to take their gathering elsewhere.

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Buffalo Wild Wings says the managers -- both women, one black, one white -- were fired after an internal investigation. The host is a black man who quit that day.

Two county board members from Naperville -- Jim Healy and Sadia Covert -- said what happened isn't representative of their city.

"The Naperville I know is a community that is embracing to everybody" said Healy, who is a Republican. "I was shocked and dismayed to find that there still are these vestiges of ignorant, bigoted people who exist, even in the city that I love."

Covert, who is a Democrat, said Naperville is a great city.

"It's unfortunate what happened," she said. "We are trying to go forward with this, and we're also trying to correct the problem right away."

Covert said she's proud of efforts in Naperville to "make sure that this doesn't happen again at any restaurant."

Meanwhile, county board member Jim Zay said it's important for DuPage to have a mission statement that communicates its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Carol Stream Republican said the county is dedicated to serving residents of all races and beliefs.

County board member Julie Renehan, a Hinsdale Democrat, said she's encouraged by the update of the mission statement.

"I'm confident that we can bring progress on inclusion and diversity as we have discussions with our mayors and managers," she said.

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