Too many candidates for the Naperville city council, and too few seats available to be filled. In 16 days voters in Naperville will determine which four candidates will be elected to 4-year terms and which four candidates will walk away utterly devastated in defeat. Maybe not devastated, but definitely defeated.
Four incumbents are running for re-election including, Judy Brodhead, John Krummen, Kevin Coyne, and Kevin Gallaher, while four others are looking to be elected for the first time including, Benny White, Julie Berkowicz, Mike Isaac, and Mike Strick.
There seem to be fewer candidate yard signs this year. I’ve seen more yard signs for Brodhead, Isaac, Krummen, and Strick, and fewer for Berkowicz, Coyne, Gallaher, and White. I’ve also seen fewer direct mail pieces flowing into my mailbox than in past elections, though that most likely will change over the next two weeks.
Typically incumbents have an advantage over new-comers due to name recognition, and candidate names at the top of the ballot have an advantage to those lower on the ballot. Based on that, it should bode well for Brodhead and Krummen, since both incumbents are among the top three on the ballot. While new-comers White and Strick are the last two names on the ballot.
Having watched Naperville city council meetings for almost eight years, and writing about the council for almost seven years, it’s given Watchdog a decent perspective regarding which council members are assets to the dais, and which members are liabilities, and if upgrades are in order. With that in mind, and needing to select four candidates to endorse, let’s look at the incumbents first to see how many new-comers, if any, can be added to the council.
Judy Brodhead needs to be replaced. She has over-stayed her welcome, having been on the council since 2009. Her expiration date elapsed years ago. She ‘s probably a very nice person outside of council, which is exactly where she needs to be. She adds nothing in the way of original thought or creativity, and typically is over-matched intellectually and pragmatically.
John Krummen needs to be elsewhere on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, which are the same nights as city council meetings. Krummen’s so-called strengths are numbers and finance, but you would never know it during meetings. Often he asks for clarification for the most simple numbers-related topics. During the last election, Krummen came in 7th place of the top eight vote-getters. The one huge cloud that Krummen could not shake, was his pro-position as an ambassador for the forced installation of smart-meters. Residents have not saved one dime on their electric bills, in direct opposition to Krummen’s words otherwise.
Kevin Coyne is a keeper. He is the most competent sitting council member. When he speaks people listen. He keeps it simple, and has the ability to say so much in so few words. If you look up the words ‘Common sense’ in a dictionary you will see his picture.
Kevin Gallaher was on the city council from 1995 until 2002, then off the council for 13 years, and elected again in 2015. He was the lowest vote-getter in the last election coming in 8th place. The only thing that saved him was the fact that eight candidates had to be elected. A few votes less and he would have been home watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island on Tuesday nights. His 13 years away from the council was a good idea. Watchdog suggests that he do it again, and make a come-back effort to the city council in the year 2030. Gallaher is an ‘OK’ member of the council, but ‘OK’ is not good enough for Naperville.
With only one incumbent being endorsed by Watchdog for re-election (Kevin Coyne), that leaves three council seats available for non-incumbents.
Michael Isaac would be a strong addition to the council. He is an outstanding communicator with a clear vision for Naperville’s future. During the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation candidate forum, members of a focus group observing and listening to Isaac nailed it with the following comments about Isaac’s presentation, “confident, energetic, orderly, creative, decisive, persistent, engaging, inspiring, pragmatic, strong bias for action”. That sounds like a great foundation for a member of any group, including the Naperville city council.
Benny White, as a West Point graduate and retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, would definitely bring a positive and disciplined perspective to the council. His service to our country is transferable to our community. He is a straight-forward communicator, willing to share opposing views; two characteristics desperately needed by our city council.
That leaves one seat remaining for either Mike Strick or Julie Berkowicz. Neither is exceptionally strong in comparison to Coyne, Isaac, or White. The other options are to endorse an empty seat, or a write-in candidate, but if the election could get hacked by the Russians, (just kidding) it’s best that we go with one or the other, hence Julie Berkowicz is the choice. Mike Strick is probably a good guy and would do an O.K. job but if O.K. was not good enough for Gallaher, and being a good-person was not good enough for Brodhead, then Strick is the last person out.
In conclusion, Watchdog endorses the following candidates for the Naperville city council:
- Kevin Coyne
- Mike Isaac
- Benny White
- Julie Berkowicz
Julie Berkowicz could be the greatest thing since sliced-bread, or a total dud. Let’s roll the dice and see how it goes.