Naperville mayor delivers final State of the City address

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“In Naperville, being a bright light means being a place where people have big dreams and encouraging everyone to lend a helping hand.” 

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico delivered his eighth and final State of the City address on Thursday. The speech’s theme was “what does it mean to be a bright light for a person, business, or community?”

He was introduced to the crowd at the Wentz Concert Hall by his five daughters: (left to right) Tara, Dana, Lauren, Jenna and Kayla. 

“For me, looking back starts with my family,” said Chirico. “Having my daughters introduce me is symbolic because my family is the reason I ran for mayor.”

Strong Economy

Chirico remarked on three financial principles he has collaborated with city council and staff to implement. 

The first was passing a structurally balanced budget, and the second was continually improving city services in a cost-effective way. The mayor referred to the third principle as one of his “proudest accomplishments” while in office.

“I advocated rebuilding our cash reserves after the Great Recession, and I am so proud to stand up here eight years and one major economic event later to say we exceeded our goals,” said Chirico. “We’ve reduced our debt by almost 36%, and our cash balances are back up to almost 37% of our 2022 General Fund expenses.”

Chirico welcomed new businesses to Naperville during his term, such as the Mall of India, Amazon Fresh, and Patel Brothers.

“Naperville is already known for providing good customer service,” said Chirico. “But as a business owner myself, I knew we could do even more for our customers when they walked through our doors. Our work could help businesses open or expand more quickly.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Chirico recognized the city’s need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership.

“Today, almost a quarter of our board and commission members represent one of several ethnicities,” said Chirico. “37% of appointees are women. Almost a quarter are in their mid-twenties to mid-forties, bringing a younger perspective to the table… These efforts mean our council now hears from boards that better reflect the community’s different viewpoints and experiences.”

Persevering through adversity 

Tragedy struck Naperville in several forms during Chirico’s time in office.

COVID-19, natural disasters, and calls for social justice all challenged the citizens of Naperville, but Chirico said he was proud of the city’s resilience during the tough times. 

“Each of these events could define a generation,” said Chirico. “We worked, hoped, healed, and discussed our way to a brighter future.”

Farewell to Naperville

At the conclusion of his speech, Christine Jeffries and the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce presented Chirico with a colorful mosaic featuring 50 different pictures of events during his time as mayor.

“The sincerity, the love of the community comes through in almost everything he does,” said Jeffries. “It’s been a great run for eight years. He’s accomplished a lot. And I’m proud to have been by his side.”

When asked to picture himself walking in downtown Naperville 20 years from now, Chirico had no doubts he’ll see a “better Naperville.” The mayor is confident the city will “always be known as that bright light in the State of Illinois.”

“It’s been a privilege to serve as your mayor and support not just the business community, but the entire community,” said Chirico. “Thank you for believing in what Naperville is, what Naperville can be, and what Naperville will be.”

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