How do Naperville mayoral candidates plan to bridge city's growing partisan gap?
Between negative election mailers, social media nastiness and city council barbs, the partisan gap seems to be widening in Naperville politics.
Although Naperville's municipal election is technically nonpartisan, the testy environment suggests otherwise as the city prepares to choose a new mayor on Tuesday. With Steve Chirico deciding last year not to run for a third term, how do the three candidates -- Tiffany Stephens, Scott Wehrli and Benny White -- aim to bridge that gap?
White has been a city councilman since 2017 and has witnessed the recent jabs among council members on the dais.
If elected, White said he'd bring people together by leaning on his experience as a retired Army officer and as an Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board member. White said an understanding of the city's growing diversity is important in building a cohesive community.
"I understand the importance of bringing people together from a leadership standpoint," White said. "I've been doing it my whole life.
"Folks are going to come in with different views, and we shouldn't necessarily vilify them for their views," he said. "We need to come to an understanding and get what they're talking about, and then we can come up with a great solution for our community."
Wehrli, who runs the family-owned Dukane Precast construction company, works part-time for the Naperville Park District police and is a member of the city's liquor commission. He said his campaign platform was built around conversations with residents who told him they were tired of the partisanship seeping into city politics.
"They want Naperville representatives -- they want their city council -- to make their decisions based upon the local issues," he said. "What's the best for our local community, not for national or state offices.
"You've got to find common ground on certain issues that appear at city council regardless of where partisan factions are," Wehrli said. "You find an opportunity to get through an issue where maybe not everybody's happy, but we've got progress and something we can all live with."
Stephens, who runs a nonprofit organization, did not participate in the Daily Herald endorsement interview and did not submit a candidate questionnaire. On social media, she's declared herself an "independent."