Candidate Name: Vasavi Chakka
Office Seeking: City Council
Campaign Website: www.vasavichakka.com
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Harmony Grove Subdivision
Occupation and/or Professional Training: Senior IT Project Management with 23 years of experience, and Leadership development and Coaching since 2014.
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? Since 2004, it has been 16 years.
Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too):
- The Loaves & Fishes Community Advisory Council (CAC): 2020 to Present
- Naperville Sister Cities Commission: 2017 to Present
- Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Board: 2015 to 2018
- Kids Matter Board of Trustees: 2015 to 2017
- 360 Youth Services Community Alliance for Prevention (CAP) 2014-2017
- Indian Community outreach Organization Board 2015 to Present
- SAFE Coalition for Human Rights 2014-2019
- Naperville Downtown Rotary 2013 to 2017
- Think Global Arts Foundation 2011 to 2017
- Chinmaya Mission Chicago (Badri) Values based leadership development – 2005 to 2018
- D 204 STEM Advisory – 2011 to 2018
- Neuqua PTSA Executive Board – 2009 to 2012
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running for City Council?
My Husband and I moved Naperville 16 years ago, to provide the best opportunities possible for our children to thrive. I deeply care about Naperville community because it has been my home. I am running for Naperville City Council because I want to be a voice for every citizen in our community and I want our government to reflect the diversity we have in Naperville. As a mother, wife, and small business owner, I understand the issues affecting our community and want to ensure that Naperville continues to be a welcoming city for all.
2. What is Naperville’s most pressing need?
There has been an increase of ~20% in 911 calls since 2019 with the pandemic putting increased stress on our community’s safety. Top of mind for me is to prioritize our community’s safety and well-being by equipping our workers with specific training to handle critical situations caused by the increase in mental health and domestic abuse related issues.
Our community leaders should also put aside their differences and come together with a common plan to help ease uncertainty when it comes to critical issues like our small businesses, educational institutions, and the loss of in-person connections.
3. In your opinion, what’s the City’s most important private/public partnership?
The Naperville Development Partnership (NDP) is known as a successful public-private alliance with a proven record of attracting, retaining and promoting Naperville’s businesses. This partnership is important to Naperville as it increases the city’s revenues, which in turn allows us to fund important programs.
The NDP also acts as the Visitors Bureau for the city of Naperville, further bolstering our local businesses through increased sales. This partnership takes an essential role to enhance the economic vitality of Naperville and maintain its outstanding quality of life.
4. Name three policies that need review or immediate attention.
In the wake of social unrest and economic constraints caused by the pandemic, three policies that need immediate attention are public safety, post-pandemic fiscal recovery, and ensure we offer reliable government services. This community must feel safe to work and live here. We must continue to increase the trust between our community members and the Police Department. We must provide proper services to the most vulnerable. Finally, we must look at ways of reducing the city’s debt obligations.
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current Naperville City Council of City Staff?
I’ve interacted with our elected officials at various city and public events. I had contacted the council or the mayor when I had concerns that needed to be addressed. I also serve on the Sister City Commission, which holds meetings on a monthly basis. This allows me to interact with city staff, council members, and the mayor.
6. What planned development will have the greatest impact on the City?
The 5th Avenue Project is slated to have a large impact on many of our residents, as it includes affordable housing, expanded parking, and beautification of a much used and aging structure. However, concerns voiced by community members around density, safety, traffic, and building heights have put the project on hold until further review.
The 5th Avenue Project may come to review alongside other City projects and priorities as part of an upcoming strategic planning process. It is important that city council continues to listen to the concerns of the residents while balancing promotion of responsible economic development projects.
7. What up-and-coming development is most important to the City of Naperville?
As our vibrant community continues to grow, we have to ensure that our infrastructure is updated and maintained. The Downtown Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project is a critical project to our community. ~ 30,000 vehicles pass on Washington Street per day, and the bridge itself is more than 4 decades old and has deteriorated to the point of needing replacement.
Once the bridge project is complete, it will increase access to our downtown corridor, reduce safety risks and improve traffic flow and aesthetics.
8. How often do you patronize Naperville restaurants?
Before the pandemic I often enjoyed going downtown with my friends for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This year has been tough for our community and particularly those in the hospitality industry. Every chance I get I try to order food from local establishments and that includes grabbing a cup of coffee when I’m in the downtown area.
9. When folks come to visit, where do you take them in Naperville?
My favorite place is the Riverwalk. I love bringing my friends and family for a nice long walk along the river. Other places I would take someone visiting Naperville include Naper Settlement, The Morton Arboretum, Paddleboat Quarry, Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon, and Wentz Concert Hall. We might just sit in a café and catch up. Afterwards, we would attend a nice dinner at Meson Sabika, Quigley’s, Hugo’s, or another of downtown’s many restaurants. We would end with a scoop of cookie dough and ice cream at Cookie Dough Creations.
10. How has the Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) Fund served the City of Naperville?
The City of Naperville encourages celebrations of community that focus on the heritage, diversity, and character of Naperville. In support of these activities, the City of Naperville established the Special Events & Cultural Amenities (SECA) Fund in 2004. Since then
SECA has contributed to hundreds of events across Naperville that has highlighted the diversity of our community. It provides resources to help advance the social and artistic events and entities, providing cultural experiences for the Naperville community.
According to the Final SECA Allocations for CY20 report $ 1,010,925 founds are allocated to the following categories: Capital Projects 5%; Visual Arts 15%;
Performing Arts 40%; New Initiatives 10%; Themed Related Initiatives 30% and Special Events. If anyone would like to see the details of these allocations:
11. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
I have recently completed a civic leadership program “Civic leadership Education roadmap” (CLER) offered by the Policy Circle organization. This program is offered to few selected candidates who have been active in civic leadership. This program had covered all parts of US Government including the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
12. What do you think is significant about Naperville’s council-manager form of government?
In a Council/Manager Municipal Government an elected at large city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and appoints a city manager to oversee day to day municipal operations and public service delivery.
In this form of government, the mayor is a regular voting member of city council same as the other council members. The council members concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens’ needs. The manager is to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served. If the manager is not responsive to the council’s wishes, the council has authority to terminate the manager at any time.
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?
As a leadership coach, I always seek to find what is new in the field of value-based leadership. “Dare to Lead” is a book by Brené Brown, it’s about daring leadership.
- Don’t avoid difficult conversations, situations, or pretend to have the right answers. Stay curious and ask the right questions. Choose “Courage over comfort” to make their vulnerability into strength.
- Accountable, able to walk the talk and consciously lead through values.
- Empathetic, pay attention, actively listen and able to build emotional connections with acts of genuine care and kindness to earn trust.
- Know that fear and failure are inevitable in life, and face them to rise above with resilience.
Anything else would you like to add?