Naperville Mayor Chirico plans to seek second term

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico’s first term may be waning, but he says he isn’t done yet.

Chirico said he plans to run in the April 2 election for a second 4-year term leading the city of nearly 150,000.

He said he wants to continue to promote economic growth, work for residential property tax relief and address commercial development on both the north and south sides of the city in a second term that could run 2019 to 2022.

Chirico, who became mayor after one term as a city council member, said the council has been productive under his leadership, despite differences of opinion on some projects, such as whether to spend city money on a rebranding effort of the east Ogden Avenue corridor into “Uptown Naperville” and whether to require a 4-year warranty on the sale of dogs and cats.

“While we’ve made a lot of accomplishments in terms of financial policy,” the 58-year-old mayor said, “I think we still have a long way to go in terms of local development, local economic development and trying to make sure we broaden our tax base.”

When Chirico won the 2015 election against three opponents, he became the city’s first new mayor after the 20-year tenure of George Pradel. He relied on Pradel to help with the transition and continued to embrace the man known as “Officer Friendly” by giving the city’s former leader the new title of Mayor Emeritus.

Chirico then shifted the focus to finances, implementing — with the approval of the council — three financial principles and charging the first home-rule sales tax to help ensure Naperville retains its AAA bond rating.

But the mayor said he thinks homeowners, especially those on the south side of the city, are being squeezed too tightly by their property taxes. That’s why he wants to pursue continued development of commercial properties in south Naperville to help lighten the burden of supporting not only city services, but schools.

“They are way too reliant on residential property taxes down there,” he said. “It’s just not sustainable.”

Another priority in a potential second term would be seeing through the redevelopment of 13 acres of city-owned land near the 5th Avenue Metra station.

The process began in the public eye in early 2017, when the city sought qualifications from developers, and continued in October when officials chose Ryan Companies to run a public engagement process. The council could give Ryan permission to begin drawings of site plans during a meeting July 17, but construction isn’t expected to begin until fall 2019 at the earliest.

“I want to make sure it’s done right,” Chirico said. “I want to make sure the community’s proud of it and it really does make the area better.”

Chirico said he has been planning to run for re-election for a while — long enough to get his fundraising game on and collect $49,142 last quarter, for a total campaign fund of $73,384, according to campaign disclosure records.

He said he has a few more fundraisers coming up and he anticipates some opposition will come forward, though he knows of no one else who wants the mayor’s seat so far.

“I take the job seriously,” he said. “I’ll take the campaign seriously.”

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