Naperville mask mandate fails; Mayor Steve Chirico defends Florida trip for daughter's wedding

Mayor changes stance, voices opposition to mask mandate he previously backed

ByJesse Kirsch WLS logo
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Naperville mask mandate fails after mayor changes stance
The mandate resolution was meant to make people feel more safe downtown, according to Councilwoman Brodhead.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A proposed mandate that would make wearing a mask mandatory indoors and outdoors failed in west suburban Naperville Tuesday night.

Hundreds of public comments were read during the virtual meeting before the council voted against it 5-4. The vast majority of those comments expressed strong opposition to the measure, which would have required those in Naperville to wear masks at all times while in public.

Councilwoman Judith Brodhead voted in favor of the proposal. She said the resolution was about making people feel more comfortable in downtown and hopefully bring in business.

"My view is that a lot of people stay from the downtown because they think there are too many unmasked people," Brodhead said.

Brodhead believed misinformation fueled Tuesday night's vocal opposition and argued that the proposed ordinance would not have been more restrictive than the state mask mandate already in effect.

Local law would have enforced the rules, according to Brodhead.

"Police officers or community service officers or whoever is assigned to do that would have wide discretion in enforcing it," Brodhead said.

Some people believe masks are helpful, but a local mandate would have been too much.

"As far as downtown, it's your choice of how safe you feel about wearing it and so forth and still trying to distance yourself," said Jim Ruhl, Naperville resident.

Naperville City Council voted down a mandate requiring people to wear masks at all times in public.

Mayor Steve Chirico, among those who voted against the resolution, first revealed that the City Council would be considering a mask mandate be imposed on the community a few weeks ago.

Two days later, it was revealed on social media that he had traveled to Florida to attend his daughter's wedding. A social media photo later surfaced, showing him surrounded by a group of unmasked people.

RELATED: Naperville mayor responds to controversy over Florida trip for daughter's wedding

The mayor of west suburban Naperville is responding to controversy surrounding his trip to Florida this weekend for his daughter's wedding.

That revelation brought upon accusations of hypocrisy and double standards. The mayor had remained mostly quiet about the matter until tonight.

"To attend our daughter's wedding, we tested, COVID tested, one day prior to traveling. In our travel, we followed all the guidelines of the airlines and the federal government. Once we arrived in Florida, we followed all the state guidelines. We quarantined upon our return and then my wife and I retested twice, negative," Mayor Chirico said. "This is our COVID bubble. We traveled together. We stayed in a house together while we were down there. We sat together at the wedding. It's our direct family."

Following those remarks in defense of his travels, the mayor did use his experience in Florida partly as a reason to now oppose the imposition of a mask mandate in Naperville.

"I didn't run for mayor to impose restrictive mandates on our community and in our citizen's daily lives," Mayor Chirico said. "And now, having just visited a state with an open economy and no mask mandate, I have witnessed firsthand that less regulation can be just as safe and lead to better results."

While the mayor now opposes a mandatory mask mandate in Naperville, he also said people should be encouraged to wear masks in public, calling them the single greatest tool we have right now.

An Illinois mandate still remains in place that requires anyone over the age of two and medically capable to wear a mask when social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. That specifically applies to public indoor locations such as stores, according to the state order.