Naperville councilman Grant Wehrli is running for his political life. It wasn’t that long ago that Wehrli was an up and coming shining star in Naperville politics. It was thought by many that whenever Naperville Mayor George Pradel decided to ‘pack it in’ and retire, Wehrli would be in position to seek the office and be elected. Considering that councilman Doug Krause, a consistent runner-up in mayoral elections, and former councilman Kenn Miller would finally ‘give up the good fight’ of being elected mayor, this would grease the path for Wehrli to be elected for mayor. In essence, Wehrli could slide in the back door of the mayor’s office without much effort.
Wehrli’s path to the Naperville city council was also greased when he joined the council in 2006 without receiving one vote. He was appointed to replace former councilman David Fiore. While most council members have to earn the opportunity to serve by being elected, Wehrli simply walked through the door and took his seat at the dais.
On the council, his political potential began to surface, but just as quickly as it rose, it began to take a dive and his ‘political stock-value’ plummeted. This was hastened by his support of unpopular decisions including being seen as the ‘point person’ and political puppet of the Department of Energy, for the forced installation of smart meters on homes and businesses in Naperville. Wehrli was seen as ‘standing in front of the line’ for Federal handouts by trading due diligence of resident safety, health, privacy and security in exchange for Federal funds from the Department of Energy. The manner in which he handled the situation alienated a huge segment of informed Naperville residents. Because of this forced installation of Smart Meters, a number of cases are working their way through the court system, including two separate cases in which two mothers were arrested for protecting their homes and families against the misuse of power by Naperville officials.
Additional concerns about councilman Grant Wehrli included, abruptly stopping communication with a number of Naperville residents who wanted answers to questions. He went so far as to create what appeared to be his own ‘political enemies’ list comprised of residents who requested FOIA’s (Freedom Of Information Act) requests. Time and again he did not challenge city manager Doug Krieger regarding issues of city expense, and too often just rubber-stamped expenditures. Wehrli’s chance of being elected mayor took a major hit, and the chances of him being re-elected to the council were about as good as the Cubs making it to the World Series before the next election.
Hence, what would any shrewd politician do? Well that’s easy….leave the ‘scene of the crime’ and toss his hat in the ring to be elected elsewhere. Somewhere, where name recognition may garner enough votes to compensate for a less than lack luster voting record, and somewhere, where the body-politic is in disarray, and a politician could blend into the ineptness of its members. And that place is in the Illinois House, specifically representing District 41, and replacing Darlene Senger who’s current term expires next year.
The unfortunate part of Wehrli’s saga is that, for the most part, he really is a nice guy with a good sense of humor and appears to care for the city but somewhere he took a wrong left turn and lost focus in the inky shadows of city hall.
The question isn’t where can Wehrli do the most good, but rather where can he do the least amount of damage. Based on that, the voters of Naperville need to send him running for cover in Springfield.