Naperville City Council debates campaign contribution disclosure ordinance ahead of formal vote

Wide shot of Naperville City Council
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At this week’s Naperville City Council meeting, local leaders will decide what to do about the campaign contribution disclosure ordinance.

The current law states that prior to any vote by the group, any council member needs to make a public announcement if they have accepted a campaign donation in excess of $750 from any interested party.

During a workshop session on Oct. 9, council members discussed which way they’re leaning ahead of the official vote about whether to keep the ordinance in place, or make any changes.

History of the campaign contribution disclosure ordinance

City council initially implemented the ordinance in December of 2020 in an effort to improve public transparency.

It had been part of the city’s municipal code for about two and half years when former Mayor Steve Chirico first proposed a repeal in March of this year.

The discussion was then tabled until after this year’s municipal election, and is now back on the agenda for council consideration.

Keep as is?

As part of the workshop session, council members weighed in on the options moving forward.

Several were in favor of keeping the ordinance as is, including Councilman Benny White, who believes the ordinance has achieved its intended goal of raising confidence in city leadership.

“I think it does add that level of transparency,” White said. “I know it because I’ve had many folks call us and tell us that, email us and tell us that.”

Councilman Patrick Kelly agreed. He suggested the possibility of widening the parameters of the law in order to address campaign donors who are part of political action committees (PACs).

“Let’s fill the gap,” Kelly said. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. If we’ve got a problem with the ordinance, and a way to make it stronger, I say we should do that, full-fledged.”


Other city council members, including Jennifer Bruzan Taylor, discussed the possibility of raising the amount of money a donor could give before a public disclosure was necessary. She believes the current cap may be impacting who chooses to give.

“Does it dissuade local businesses, local individuals who do care about the community and want to support a candidate in some way?,” Taylor said.

She went on to suggest the cap be raised to $6,900, which is in line with the state law on campaign contributions.

“It protects the smaller business, who may be intimidated by the current dollar amount,” Taylor said.


Current Mayor Scott Wehrli was one of the elected leaders who suggested getting rid of the ordinance altogether. He questioned why the law was necessary at all.

“The terms of this ordinance suggest that a $750 or more donation gets somebody special access, or interest, or consideration,” Wehrli said. “I do not think the integrity of this council, its members, or those residences or businesses who want to be involved in elections should be routinely called into question. It cheapens our public process.”

Shortly after Wehrli’s comments, a straw poll was taken, in which five out of nine council members showed support for a repeal.

The formal vote will take place during the next council meeting on Oct. 17.

Photo courtesy: City of Naperville

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