Jennifer Bruzan Taylor
Candidate Name: Jennifer Bruzan Taylor
Office Seeking: City Council
Campaign Website: www.taylorfornaperville.com
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Westside Neighborhood (WHOA)
Occupation and/or Professional Training: I am an Attorney and spent most of my career as a Cook County Prosecutor. I also spent time teaching Constitutional Law.
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? I grew up in South Naperville and my parents still live in the home I grew up in. For almost three years I have lived in North Naperville with my husband Matt and my two young children, Nolan and Victoria.
Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too):
City of Naperville Nichols Library Parking Working Group, 2020
Westside Home Owner’s Association (WHOA), Vice Chairman, 2019 to Present
DuPage Children’s Museum Next Gen Board, 2019 to Present
City of Naperville Housing Conditions Focus Group, 2019
Huron Point Homeowner’s Association, Secretary, 2014-2018
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running for City Council?
Naperville and its residents have formed and inspired me, and I want to preserve this heritage while building a future for my children and all the children of Naperville. Specifically, I want to work to promote our small businesses, protect our community, and pursue responsible development.
2. What is Naperville’s most pressing need?
The City needs to actively work to help our small businesses to prevent them from closing down. Small businesses are the lifeline of our community. Local owners know that they only succeed if everyone succeeds, and so they invest in the community. They support each other, charities and local organizations in many ways. Their unique offerings bring non-residents to Naperville to spend their money, thereby lowering resident’s tax obligations. I’ve reached out to businesses throughout Naperville and discovered there are low cost ways for the City to help these businesses, in addition to public/private partnership options.
3. In your opinion, what’s the City’s most important private/public partnership?
Our Riverwalk is the iconic centerpiece of Naperville and what draws both residents and visitors to Naperville. Unlike nearby towns, our downtown is centered around the DuPage River, not the train station, and this uniqueness brings in the visitors who help our tax base by spending money in Naperville. The Riverwalk is Naperville’s most important and successful private/public partnership in that its creation, maintenance, and expansion requires the assistance of various City Departments and Commissions, the Park District, multiple private community organizations, and residents themselves. I will continually work to keep this partnership strong.
4. Name three policies that need review or immediate attention.
(1) The City’s lack of a policy on how to address the financial situation facing many of our small businesses and restaurants. Each business closure ends up costing the City tax revenue, which will lead to higher residential property taxes.
(2) Although discussed at length by Council, we still lack a policy to help address our attainable housing needs, especially for our workforce and elderly residents who want to continue living in Naperville.
(3) The City needs to re-evaluate its traffic and parking policies to align with modern driving habits to help alleviate traffic issues and properly plan infrastructure upgrades.
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current Naperville City Council of City Staff?
Multiple times a week I am engaged in dialogue with members of Naperville City’s Council, various Commissioners, and/or City staff.
6. What planned development will have the greatest impact on the City?
Of all the multiple planned developments throughout Naperville, the one property that will impact Naperville as a whole, and the only one involving taxpayer owned land, is the future development of the 5th Avenue train station property. How this property is developed could change what is considered the entry into downtown, and may even shift our downtown. This property also has the potential to attract more visitors, residents, and businesses to Naperville. Because this is taxpayer owned land, I will ensure that the development benefits all Naperville residents, be economically feasible, and recognize the changes in lifestyles brought on by COVID.
7. What up-and-coming development is most important to the City of Naperville?
The Kroehler YMCA property is the most important future development in Naperville. How that property is developed has the potential to change the whole feel of downtown and the long-term future development of other downtown properties. If the new development sits right at the sidewalk with the same height and width of the Old Nichols Library development, than downtown may transform from its quirky, one to two story buildings to a series of five to six story or taller buildings. This will change the feel of downtown, and will impact the visitor and resident experience.
8. How often do you patronize Naperville restaurants?
My family and I patronize various Naperville restaurants throughout Naperville one to three days a week. We focus on locally owned businesses.
9. When folks come to visit, where do you take them in Naperville?
The Riverwalk is the first place to take guests all year round. In the summer, we will go for paddleboat rides and visit Centennial Beach. We also like to take guests to Naper Settlement, and, if my guests have young children, visit the DuPage Children’s Museum. In addition, we go for walks at the Springbrook Nature Preserve, and golf at the Springbrook Golf Course.
10. How has the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) Fund served the City of Naperville?
SECA uses the money earned from the 1% food and beverage tax in order to fund cultural and artistic events and experiences for Naperville residents and visitors. Although SECA’s goal appears lofty, it makes economic sense and is something I support. By providing attractive cultural activities, events, and art throughout Naperville, not only do Naperville residents get to enjoy the experiences, but it also entices visitors who come and spend money in Naperville.
11. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
I taught Constitutional Law in the Spring of 2020 at North Central College, and so that is the most recent time I read the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Because of my knowledge of our Constitution, I understand that our founding fathers wanted politicians to represent what constituents want, not what the politicians think is best. As such, if elected I will actively seek out and listen to what residents want and need.
12. What do you think is significant about Naperville’s council-manager form of government?
The significance of Naperville’s form of government comes from the equal leadership and voting powers of the elected mayor and Council members, and combines that with the expertise of a City Manager. This allows for a more efficient government because the elected officials concentrate on creating policy while the trained City Manager focuses on implementing that policy and overseeing Naperville’s day to day operations.
13. What is a recent book, television program, or movie you have read/watched that you think everyone should read/watch to gain perspective on life?
I recently watched all the seasons of Breaking Bad. The main character made a bad decision in his past which he felt hurt his family, which led to subsequent decisions that he continually justifies as for his family. Using past experiences to help filter the world helps a person make good judgments and decisions. When a person is unaware of their filter, however, unintended biases may lead to bad decisions. When making decisions on City Council, I will look to my past experiences, but will pay attention to my filter so that I can effectively and without bias represent the interests of Naperville’s residents.
Anything else would you like to add?
My experiences and skills will allow me to work effectively and creatively to help Naperville prosper. My parents lost their small Naperville business when I was a kid, and so I understand the financial devastation that both the business owners and their employees are suffering right now. My experiences as a prosecutor handling both adult and juvenile cases taught me how important it is to balance the need to keep our community safe with innovative programs. Finally, as someone who understands both our heritage and our need to look to the future, I will work to ensure that all development is responsible and sustainable.