Candidate Name: Steve Chirico
Office Seeking: Mayor
Subdivision with Zip Code: Hobson Woods, 60540
Campaign Website: www.chiricoformayor.com
The following answers have only been formatted for purposes of this website. Answers submitted by candidates have not been edited for grammar or content.
1. When and why did you first decide to run to serve Naperville City Council?
I decided to run for City Council in 2010 because it was clear to me that both our state and the city of Naperville were not employing responsible financial principles and I wanted to help get us on the right track for a prosperous future.
2. What quality and/or skill set will you bring to a nonpartisan 9-member City Council?
As a community volunteer I have been involved in Naperville organizations for decades. As a Naperville businessman I have operated a family owned company and employed hundreds of people providing a safe place of employment and careers. As a volunteer on multiple city of Naperville boards and commissions I have learned the roles and responsibilities and not only understand, but respect the process of government decisions. All of these experiences make me uniquely qualified to continue to serve as the mayor of Naperville.
3. What do you consider to be the three biggest issues facing the City today?
- Public safety will always be my top concern and first responsibility. Safe neighborhoods and reliable utility services are of utmost importance for a thriving community and will continue to be my priority.
- I believe our schools are very vulnerable to financial challenges. We need to make sure that Naperville’s long term financial strategies promote a strong local economy to secure and protect the future of our schools. Of particular concern is the abuse of TIF districts that promote private business at the expense of our schools.
- Naperville lacks housing for recent graduates and empty nesters – two groups important to the composition of a well balanced city. As we take another look at our master plan, we need to consider modernizing zoning laws to allow for these types of housing.
4. Realistically and fiscally speaking, if you could change/improve one thing in the City, what would it be?
Naperville’s dark fiber network is an enormous asset that is hardly utilized. The city currently has a Request for Information (RFI) out to private partners to see what opportunities exist for leveraging this asset and monetizing the network. Once we identify partners this asset will have a significant long term financial impact on our city.
5. What do you think the City Council could do to help keep Naperville affordable for homeowners of all ages?
Keeping property taxes low is the best way to encourage people on a fixed income to remain in Naperville. In addition, finding ways to provide the types of housing that our seniors want is critical to retaining our seniors.
6. What City amenity is most important/attractive to you and how should its care and maintenance be funded?
There are many important areas of Naperville that all require attention and funding, however, the downtown area is particularly unique to our city and drives a significant amount of our commerce, business and tourism dollars that all contribute to our diverse tax base. While Naperville’s downtown is flourishing, it is aging and in need of updates. We are currently working with the business district to find a financial plan to re-invest in the streetscapes and infrastructure.
7. What should be done about the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) fund, if anything?
Every year the SECA fund commission improves its process and awards the money responsibly, but it remains one of the most controversial funds we have because we are using taxpayer money to support these amenities. I am comfortable with the fund and how it is currently being managed.
8. What can the City of Naperville do better to retain and attract businesses that encourages development?
The city is doing a great job of attracting and retaining businesses without giving away property tax incentives. Three years ago our city departments created the policy of “A Path to Yes,” that guides us toward finding solutions that make doing business in Naperville easier. We have been enormously successful in meeting our goals with this policy in place.
9. Are you a proponent of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)? No, I am not a proponent of TIFs. I think this tool is abused and the state should take on TIF reform. Naperville schools are getting cheated because TIFs are being misused by cities across the state, but in particular TIFs are abused in Chicago. Chicago has tremendous property wealth, but their TIF districts hide this wealth which diverts state education funding away from the rest of the state’s schools and into Chicago schools. While a properly used TIF can be an appropriate financing tool to drive economic benefits to a city, I do not think TIFs should be used for residential development.
10. Do you live in School District 203 or School District 204? I live in School District 203.
Please tell anything else that distinguishes your interest in serving Naperville in 150 words or less…
I love serving Naperville as mayor and I work very hard at the job. I am dedicated to this office and committed to our residents. I have an open door policy at City Hall, where I work each day, and meet with dozens of residents weekly. Often people come to speak to me about personal issues – they simply need someone to listen. I hear stories of financial hardship, drug addiction, marital issues, mental illness concerns and much more. When I can, I offer guidance, but other times all I do is listen and show support – it’s an aspect of my job that I didn’t anticipate, but have fully embraced. My commitment to Naperville goes beyond a balanced budget – I am deeply involved in the community and am passionate about seeing our residents thrive in a vibrant, diverse city that not only meets their needs but exceeds their expectations.