Naperville economy major issue in mayoral race

March 28, 2011 4:22:08 PM PDT
April 5 is Election Day in Chicago and several Chicago-area suburbs.

In Naperville, two challengers are taking on incumbent George Pradel in the race for mayor. As with many communities, getting the town's economy back on track is one of the major issues in the campaign.

The western suburb is known for its excellent schools and robust city celebrations. The city that thrived on Money Magazine's Best Places to Live For Years dropped from the top five to 54th last year and could face a deficit in two years.

Mayor George Pradel is serving his fourth term. He is featured prominently in the city's annual holiday parade and has championed the accomplishments of native Napervillians like Evan Lysacek. The retired police officer has also weathered the recession as the city trimmed over 100 employees. Pradel says his experience will be what's needed to move the economy forward.

"I think I'm a calming effect. I know a lot of people after all these years that I've served Naperville. I think I can have them to lock shoulders and we can get through these tough times together," said Pradel.

Kenn Miller is city councilman, a former corporate executive and started two businesses, including one to offer home therapy for autistic children. From the Quad Cities area, he moved to Naperville for its good schools 15 ago. Miller says the city needs new leadership with expertise in business.

"We are attractive, but we're competing with a lot of other cities that are trying to do the same thing. So we need to get aggressive and go out and find those companiesto bring to Naperville," said Miller.

Doug Krause is the longest serving councilman. Prior to his public service, he was a real estate broker who opened a food store featuring chemically free foods after learning how nutrition may have prevented the fatal disease of his newborn daughter. He wants the city to make it easier for businesses to succeed including competing for city business.

"The newsletter for the city has been printed in Kentucky, not even in the state of Illinois and we have printers in town. They should be able to know how to bid on something to get the city's business," said Krause.

Voters in Naperville will decide which candidates will guide the city's next moves next week.