Scott Wehrli has a long history of service in the Naperville community.
“I’ve been a volunteer, I’ve worked as a police officer here. I’ve done different things in the community that contribute for various reasons, and I didn’t do it for any credit. I didn’t do it to put my name on anything. I just did it because I thought it was right and I thought it was my part of giving back to the community,” said Wehrli.
But he now has the chance to make perhaps his largest contribution of all to Naperville, as its new mayor. Stepping into office May 1, he kicked off his first day with a meeting about the mental health crisis in our community.
“That was a day one promise throughout the election, and I was so excited to actually have that happen and have the input from those folks as we discuss our plans for the future of putting a spotlight on mental health in our community,” said Wehrli.
Moving the city forward
He’s got big plans for the city, and clear ideas about what he’d like to tackle.
“I think one of the most challenging areas is the east-west technical corridor, simply because there’s a lot of single occupant buildings that would need to be redeveloped into multitenant. (CUT TO) There’s a lot of potential for this community to redevelop itself as one of the places that’s going to be a destination for the high-tech and the, the research and development areas that really put Naperville on the map over the last 40, 50 years,” said Wehrli.
Moving the city forward takes a community effort, he says, and he’s out in that community gathering input.
“One of the things I really enjoy doing is now that I’m mayor, it’s okay for me to go and sit down with somebody for a cup of coffee in a restaurant who I might not know and just have a conversation and talk to them about their experience here in our community. Those conversations, which are really kind of impromptu, they’re very revealing,” said Wehrli.
Hoping to be a unifying force
He steps into office after an election that saw some partisan politics, with the hope to unite and move forward. But he also embraces the different views others bring to the table.
“I don’t agree that we need a city council that’s going to vote 9-0 on every issue, because that doesn’t necessarily give us the, the right mix of people on the council. We have to have some disagreement. Otherwise, we’re going to find ourselves in a place we don’t necessarily want to be in,” said Wehrli.
His first council meeting was May 2, and he put his own stamp on the process right from the start.
“We installed a three-minute timer, which people have called the Scott clock. Some of them call it the shot clock, but it was an invention that I can say I’ve seen in other cities used very successfully. And basically, it gives our speakers at public forum an opportunity to see where they are in their 3 minutes without having to be cut off,” said Wehrli.
Looking to the past, hoping to make a difference for the future
Wehrli’s aware of the long line of mayors who have come before him, and hopes to do them proud.
“They really did a lot for this place. And now that I’m going to be mentioned in the same sentences as some of them going forward, it’s, it’s a huge responsibility and I take it very seriously,” said Wehrli.
Coming from a family with a deep history in the community, he says he knows the importance of feeling a sense of belonging, and hopes to help residents capture the same.
“I want them to feel that this community is truly theirs and they are absolutely a part of it. And they have that small town feel in a pretty large community,” said Wehrli.
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