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Pradel ready to give others opportunities to lead

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After tacking on a fifth — and what he says is a final — term as Mayor Tuesday, Mayor George Pradel said he is looking forward to rallying Naperville through four more years, but also ready to begin letting others take on mayoral responsibilities.

With all precincts reporting in Will and DuPage, Pradel secured 65 percent of the vote, with challengers Doug Krause collecting 18.5 percent and Kenn Miller garnering 16.5 percent.

“I feel really good about it,” Pradel said Tuesday, reiterating earlier statements that this will be his final term of office. He said that decision will give others plenty of time to start looking ahead to 2015. (Photos: Pradel headed toward 5th term)

“When I step out, I think there will be a lot of people stepping up to be mayor,” he said.

He also said council meetings will be business as usual, and while little will change in his final four years, he may ask council members to let him “sit on the sidelines” every two months.

“They need to get a feel for what it’s like to be mayor,” he said, adding that he will allow other council members to run the meetings if they so choose.

Pradel’s re-election guarantees his title of the city’s longest-serving mayor. A referendum passed in November capped the amount of time a mayor or councilman can serve to three terms.

Pradel said he is looking forward to cheer-leading the city through the next four years, and hopes to retire his position as mayor with the city on its way to economic recovery.

Both Miller and Krause said they were not happy with the way the election went, but both said they will push the initiatives they touted in their campaigns.

“I was very disappointed,” Miller said. “They must be satisfied with the way it is and don’t see a need for change. Yet (the majority) of voters in November voted for term limits.”

Miller said he will continue to push for bringing new businesses to Naperville, as well as trying to help existing businesses grow and thrive in the city.

“I just hope we’re not overlooking some of the real clear-cut issues we have in the next five years,” he said, citing the need for more revenue as a challenge the council faces.

Krause said his defeat will not keep him from pursuing more transparency at city hall, as well as initiatives to reform overtime rules and cut vehicle allowances for city department heads.

“(The election) didn’t go the way I would like it to go,” he said. “But I will keep working (on campaign platforms).”

Two new faces also joined the council, along with the re-election two current members Tuesday. Incumbents Bob Fieseler and Grant Wehrli retained seats on the city council, with 20 percent and 13.8 percent of the vote, respectively, late Tuesday night. Newcomers Steve Chirico and John McElroy, with 16.1 percent and 10.2 percent of the vote, respectively, appeared to claim a spot left vacant by Jim Boyajian and took the seat of councilman Dick Furstenau.

“Look, I lost and that’s that.” Furstenau said Tuesday. “I served 12 years and I was willing to serve another 12.”

Furstenau said the new members of the council may find fulfilling campaign promises difficult.

“You find out you make all these promises for office and you realize you’re only one of nine people,” he said. “Their lives are going to change.”

The election may have also marked the last time Naperville citizens vote in an at-large system. City Attorney Margo Ely said a judge is expected to rule April 13 on when the city will need to implement districts as a result of a November referendum — either in 2013 or 2015.

No matter the ruling, Ely said the new council and mayor will have a hand in determining how to split the city into five equal districts. It also means, Ely said, that if 2013 is chosen as the beginning of the new system, the recently elected council members will serve only two years before having to run again in a district system.

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