Election 2017

March 2017 View more

The country has been somewhat shaken from shifts in Washington DC since the Inauguration on January 20. But despite the national legislative climate—and perhaps a natural instinct to recoil from all things political—Naperville residents truly have non-partisan choices in their local government leaders at the Consolidated General Election on April 4.

In the city’s council–manager form of government—under which Naperville has operated since 1969—the city council is responsible for legislative functions: establishing policy, passing local ordinances, voting on funding and developing an overall vision. Members serve four-year terms and represent the interests of the whole city, placing no emphasis on one neighborhood over another. Eight candidates are competing for four open Naperville City Council seats in this year’s municipal election: incumbants Judy Brodhead, Kevin Coyne, Kevin Gallaher and John Krummen filed for re-election, and newcomers Julie Berkowicz, Michael Isaac, Mike Strick and Benny White also are seeking your vote.

Naperville magazine recently spoke with all candidates to get their views on current and future issues facing the city, as well as the skills and experiences they can bring to city hall.

Editor’s note: Candidates are listed alphabetically and every effort was made to verify submitted facts, listing them in a consistent/unified manner.

City Council Candidate Forum

The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC) Legislative Committee will host a City Council Candidate Forum on Monday, March 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Embassy Suites Chicago-Naperville (1823 Arbriter Court). Pre-registration is strongly encouraged; walk-ins are welcome as room allows. Cost to Chamber members is $25; non-members are $35. To register visit the Programs & Events section of the NACC website, naperville.net.

Consolidated General Election

The election of municipal, park district, library district, school district and fire district officials will be held April 4, 2017. Contact your county clerk’s office for information on voter registration, polling places, absentee ballots or early voting.

DuPage County: dupageco.org/election

Will County: thewillcountyclerk.com

Julie Berkowicz

Family | husband Wally, sons Walter (26), Paul (24) and Marc (18)

Occupation | Sales associate; previously worked in investor relations

Education | DePaul University, studied psychology and marketing

Civic involvement | Edward Hospital Patient Family Advisory Committee; Ray Graham Association Special Needs Scout Program Leader; Knoch Knolls Homeowners Association Vice President; St. Raphael Catholic School Veterans Day Program Coordinator, School Board Member and Band Parent Board Member; Boy Scouts of America Leader, Distinguished Commissioner and Public Relations Liaison; Judd Kendall VFW Ladies Auxiliary

Elected offices held | None previously

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
Affordability, which includes holding down costs for utilities, continued fiscal responsibility and the ability to fund the pensions and salaries for the employees who have earned these benefits. Determining where city operations can be more efficient is essential. Taxpayers are incurring higher tax rates and expenses, yet overall incomes are not rising as fast to match these increases.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
My career in investor relations required me to work for the investors. Keeping investors happy and representing their interest is critical to success; you can apply this to government operations in the City of Naperville. I will work to achieve results that will ensure the success of our city and the expectations and needs of the taxpayers.

Judith Brodhead

Family | husband Gary, adult children Matthew, Sarah and Garrett

Occupation | North Central College
associate professor of English

Education | BA and MA from Rutgers University in English

Civic involvement | Community Alliance for Prevention; Naperville Development Partnership Board of Directors; DuPage Mayors and Managers Legislative Committee; Riverwalk Commission; Downtown Advisory Commission, 2009–2015; NCTV17 Board of Directors, 2009–2015; League of Women Voters of Naperville President, 2004–2008; Zoning Board of Appeals 2002–2006, Chair 2004–2006; Naperville Plan Commission 1991–2002, Chair 1997–2002; YWCA DuPage County Outstanding Woman Leader, 2000; Naperville Development Partnership Board of Directors, 1999–2002

Elected offices held | City Council incumbent, 2009–present

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
Naperville is an economic engine for the state, housing about 147,000 residents and providing jobs for about 70,000 people. We are close to build out, so much of the development we’ll see in the future will be redevelopment of existing areas. Our demographics are changing; we want to be welcoming to all ages, business-friendly, but highly responsive.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
We need council members with a broad vision who understand how to balance the needs of many constituencies. I have the experience and expertise to be able to do just that.

Kevin Coyne

Family | wife Kimberly, daughter
Charlotte (7)

Occupation | Momkus McCluskey
Roberts LLC, attorney

Education | BBA from University of Iowa in business; JD from DePaul University; LLM from The John Marshall Law School

Civic involvement | Naperville Jaycees Board of Directors, 2003–2006, 2008–2010; Last Fling Executive Director, 2006; Naperville Housing Advisory Commission, 2006–2010; Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission, 2010–2015; Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, 2014–2015

Elected offices held | City Council Incumbent, 2015–present

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
I believe economic development is, and will continue to be. It is my goal that we deal with rising pension and healthcare costs without increasing our real-estate tax levy. One way to ensure this happens is through economic development and business growth. We have enormous opportunities to improve our city economically, along East Ogden Avenue and in south Naperville.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
Since being elected, we have lowered our real-estate tax levy both years, we have maintained our AAA bond rating and we lowered our overall city debt. I have been a leader in the discussion on government consolidation, cost sharing and real-estate levy reduction.

Kevin Gallaher

Family | wife Kathi, children Tom (26), Frankie (8) and Meghan (8)

Occupation | real estate and corporate attorney, private practice

Education | BA from St. John’s University in government; JD from DePaul University

Civic involvement | Turning Pointe Autism Foundation President; Naperville Responds for Hurricane Katrina; Naperville United Way’s annual campaign Co-Chair, 2002–2003; Transportation Advisory Board; West Suburban Mast Transit District Director; Naperville Development Partnership Chairman, 2001–2002; Illinois Autism Society Human Rights Committee

Elected offices held | City Council incumbent, 2015–present; previous City Council member, 1995–2001

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
The most important issue will continue to be transitioning from a high-population-growth community to a maintenance community. For the last twenty-five or thirty years, we’ve allotted so much on growth for sources of income and job opportunities. We’re done growing as a city. We must change into maintenance mode.  We’ve started to look very closely at all the jobs that the city has, 900+ people, sort of “right-sizing” the jobs.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
I experienced Naperville during the growth mode and I understand why a lot of decisions were made and I think I’m able to communicate why those decisions were made and why they were right for the past and are ripe for change now.

Mike Isaac

Family | husband Adam Stachowiak, twin sons Keegan and Caleb (3)

Occupation | Third Party Pet owner

Education | BS from Coastal Carolina University in finance and marketing

Civic involvement | Naperville Jaycees; Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce; Naperville/Aurora Residents for Lower Taxes; Naperville Financial Advisory Board

Elected offices held | None previously

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
I really think opportunity: How do we run a fiscally sound government, continue development, make a great city react to the market and provide good housing that is family-friendly? I think as you are walking into strategic planning you have to listen first to your community, your constituents. This is not about Mike’s vision. It’s about the vision of 150,000 citizens.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
From a professional standpoint, strong business acumen. I’ve developed and created several startup businesses and sold them. I understand tough negotiations and business compromises. From a personal standpoint, I’m a great listener; I’m a team player.

John Krummen

Family | late wife Barbara, sons David (24) and Nathan (22)

Occupation | Veritas Steel director
of engineering and program

Education | BS and MS from University of Cincinnati in mechanical engineering; MBA from Indiana University; Certificate in Innovation from Northwestern University

Civic Involvement | Public Utilities Advisory Board Chairman; Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Sustainability Committee; Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation; Naperville Renewable Energy Grant Program Design Committee; Naperville Development Partnership Marketing Team; Exchange Club of Naperville

Elected offices held | City Council incumbent, 2015–present

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
The infrastructure of Naperville is aging; new federal regulations will cause the city to undertake tens of millions of dollars of capital improvement projects over the next handful of years—these projects simply cannot be funded by increased taxes and fees. The community needs to redouble its efforts to attract high-paying, technology-based companies to locate and grow in Naperville.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
My background in technology will help attract companies required for economic growth, and my background in infrastructure and capital improvement will allow for better council oversight of the required capital projects to shore up aging assets and meet new regulations.

Mike Strick

Family | wife Paula, children Chad (24), Madeline (22) and Ryan (20)

Occupation | self-employed, Oil Zone/Wash Zone, Naperville, Wheaton

Education | BS from Northern Illinois in biological sciences, student athlete (football)

Civic involvement | Naperville Youth Football League Board Member; YMCA; Wheatland Athletic Association; Republican precinct committeeman; Sigma Pi Fraternity

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
I truly find Naperville’s property taxes are getting to the point of unsustainability. Many agencies are increasing taxes with no end in sight. I support a property tax freeze. I would support meaningful cuts to reduce taxes and place capital projects on the back burner to accumulate cash to pay for them instead of borrowing money to pay for them.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
As a small-business owner in Naperville since 1998, I feel I am uniquely qualified. I have balanced my budgets, hired many employees, purchased capital equipment and work with the public on a daily basis. I am a fiscal conservative and I will be a hawk for taxpayer dollars. I grew up on the south side of Chicago; my father left when I was nine and my mom Ilse was an immigrant from Germany. We did not have much and she worked very hard to provide for her three children. Hard work from my mother was fostered in me and I will govern through my life experiences to do more with less.

Dr. Benny White

Family | wife Kim, son BJ (25) and daughter Logan (20)

Occupation | Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel; JROTC Senior Army Instructor at Joliet West High School

Education | BS from United States Military Academy at West Point in management studies; MS from Indiana University in kinesiology; MBA from Webster University; DBA from Benedictine University in values driven leadership

Civic involvement | Naperville Board of Fire and Police Commissioners; DuPage County Area Project, Board of Directors; Lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars; Disabled American Veterans; Illinois Association of School Boards; National Association of School Boards

Elected offices held | Indian Prairie School District 204 Board of Education, 2012–present

What do you view as the most important issue facing the city of Naperville?
First, our aging infrastructure and filling up the office space vacated by businesses that left the area. The second issue is providing affordable housing to those who want to call Naperville home. Also, bringing in more businesses will help absorb some of the tax base for  residents.

What unique skills or experience separates you from the other candidates?
I have lived in the area for over eleven years and am proud to call Naperville home. My commitment to excellent schools and public safety is evident; as a current member and officer on the Indian Prairie Board of Education, I understand the impact of making tough decisions and how those decisions affect the stakeholders in the district.