Naperville residents speak out over Councilman McBroom’s migrant housing proposal, questioning sincerity

Local resident Meena Banasiak, who advocated for a censure of Councilman Josh McBroom during public forum at the Feb. 6 Naperville City Council meeting
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Councilman Josh McBroom faced criticism from a number of Naperville residents at Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting over his proposal last month to have city staff look into creating a “sign-up” sheet for residents interested in housing migrants, with many saying the suggestion was simply a political stunt.

Area residents comment on McBroom

After the Jan. 16 city council meeting, McBroom’s suggestion made both local and national headlines. The Republican appeared on multiple programs, telling Naperville Biden voters to “live their virtue” and noting that none had come forward offering to open their homes to migrants.

McBroom admitted the proposal was meant to be “provocative.”

“I didn’t think it would get national attention, but I did want to get people’s attention that there is an urgent crisis,” McBroom said in a call on Wednesday.

During public forum at council on Tuesday, 19 area residents gave their opinions on the proposal.

Several raised questions about McBroom, including whether he misused his position on the dais to further his political agenda, and took up city staff’s time on an initiative that wasn’t genuine, while putting Naperville into the national spotlight.

Local resident Meena Banasiak advocated for a censure of McBroom.

She quoted Chapter 5 of the Naperville Municipal Code, which says council members must conduct themselves in a way that won’t “compromise the integrity and reputation of the city.” Banasiak said McBroom “unabashedly” violated the rule.

“Naperville deserves elected officials who will unite us across differences of opinion, not further deepen the divide,” said Banasiak.

Founder of Awake Illinois Shannon Adcock thanked McBroom for bringing attention to the migrant crisis at the southern border. 

“I’m very appreciative that (McBroom) shed much-needed light on an important issue, which is open borders,” said Adcock. “I believe that we should be encouraging one another to be well-versed on what I believe is false compassion in the name of open borders.”

Council responds to McBroom’s suggestion

Following public comment, several council members gave their thoughts on McBroom’s idea and the spotlight it placed on the city. 

Councilwoman Allison Longenbaugh was upset that city staff needed to spend time researching McBroom’s proposal. The idea received four votes during new business at the Jan. 16 council meeting, surpassing the three-vote threshold required for city staff to look into a topic.

“We are at the top of a lot of lists in this country because of all the work that our staff does, certainly not because of us,” said Longenbaugh. “And it just takes one stunt like this to knock us off all of those lists, and that really upsets me.”

Councilman Ian Holzhauer critiqued the current landscape of Naperville politics.

“Here on council, we found ourselves in what seems like an ongoing reality TV show, instead of addressing our actual responsibilities… Personal glory has replaced common sense and a desire to help our city, our community, and our country,” said Holzhauer.

Councilman Nate Wilson was in favor of the proposal back in January and voiced his concern for migrants coming through the city.

“It certainly is a very unfortunate situation that the people are in without housing resources… of any of the people that came and spoke tonight, with the exception of Mr. (Tony) Andrews, nobody really offered to host anyone,” said Wilson. 

McBroom invited area residents to give suggestions about how they’d handle the influx of migrants.

“If someone else has a solution to what I see as a potential threat to our public safety and public resources, let’s hear it,” said McBroom. “You may not like my suggestion, you may not like my motives, but my motives are squarely on protecting our public safety and our public resources. I’m sorry if I was the only one that had the courage to start this conversation.”

McBroom sends letter to Texas Governor

McBroom also reached out directly to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, sending him a letter of support for his state’s handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border.

“I felt it was appropriate to at least clarify to the (Texas) governor what my proposal was and why I did it,” said McBroom in a call on Wednesday. “Writing him, I’m going to thank him for his leadership, and what I think is a man-made disaster that he’s leading and needs to be fixed by our federal government.”

Though not in favor of using tax-payer funds for migrant housing, McBroom emphasized his continued support for asylum seekers coming through Naperville.

“I believe I have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the public safety in Naperville and protect the public’s tax dollars,” said McBroom in a call on Wednesday. “My motion was a sincere solution, and it doesn’t appear that that’s a solution that our community is interested (in). I hope they continue to help in their own way, but we have a housing crisis.”

No action was taken from the dais against McBroom at Tuesday’s meeting.

Photo courtesy: City of Naperville

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