Mayor A. George Pradel —Someone You Should Know

March 2015 View more

SYSK0315_nm mayor pradel 1_800pxHe’s known as “Officer Friendly” and has tirelessly worked as Naperville’s longest-serving Mayor. After two decades of service, Mayor A. George Pradel is retiring after the April general election. Pradel looks back at his legacy and contributions to the City and offers advice for the next mayor.

What will you miss the most about not being mayor?

I’m going to miss the people I get to meet everyday in our great city. I’m going to miss knowing what’s going on in the City everyday. As Mayor, I’m always one of the first to know what’s going on in the City. I’m also going to miss attending the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for all of the new businesses. But perhaps most of all, I’m going to miss being a cheerleader for Naperville at all of the public events and fundraisers.

You helped transform Naperville into a vibrant and energetic city. What is your proudest accomplishment as mayor?

I am so honored to be in this position but I am not the only one who made good things happen in this City. During my time as Mayor, we accomplished many things like improving the Riverwalk and adding the Carillon Bell Tower. It was all a team effort and not me individually. I don’t let the title get to my head. While I take the job responsibility seriously, I like to have fun and want to make everyone feel comfortable.

You are very active in the community and have made numerous contributions to the success and growth of this City. What are your personal plans for the future?

There will be lot’s of opportunities for me. I will continue working on many of the Boards I currently serve and help with fundraisers. I also promised the people that I will be here for them during the transition to the next mayor. There will be plenty for me to do out there. I like to sing, so I might go back to the men’s chorus. I’m not looking for a job since I’m already retired from the police force. However, I might be a greeter at a restaurant or look into opportunities for speaking engagements. I can always share my experiences of what it’s like being a mayor of a major city. My niche is to reach out to people and I enjoy doing that.

What advice do you have for the next Mayor?

Whoever is the next mayor, they should make sure they lead for the people. Listen to the people. Work on improving the quality of life for the person who needs it the most. Be fair, have an open door policy, and be open to suggestions people might have. Treat everyone equal, be open and honest, and make decisions for the young people because they are our future.

I would also say the next mayor should be visible, approachable, seen out in the public and be willing to have a cup of coffee with residents. Everyone has to be an individual, so the next mayor should not be like me. They should just be themselves.

You’re known for your contagious enthusiasm for the City. How do you want Naperville residents to remember you?

I want people to remember me as the omnipresent mayor and their friend. I want them to know that I care about everyone and I want to make everyone happy. My gift has been with kids. When I was in high school, I wanted to be the head of an orphanage. As a Naperville police officer, I spoke with kids and encouraged them to stay away from crime. That’s how I got the nickname “Officer Friendly.” It’s always been my lifelong goal to work with kids and for 45 years I also played Santa and I got my wish.

Photo by Robyn Sheldon