Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan Uncovers Huge Problem In Naperville

Naperville incorporated in 1831 and it took 190 years for someone, (Naperville councilwoman Theresa Sullivan) to uncover a huge problem, that no one else knew existed. It’s not crime or drug addiction, it’s not related to the city budget, it’s not even how the mayor decorates his office. The huge problem is pronouns. Yes, pronouns! Not ‘she’ or ‘her’, it’s ‘he, him and his’.

Sullivan, with a little too much time on her hands, confirmed with the help of Pam Gallahue, Community Services Director, that the 14 chapters of Title One of the Naperville administrative code has 71 references to “he” and 164 references to “his”. Sullivan sees these as “mistakes” while most folks see these as pronouns.

How is it that nobody noticed this during the Civil War or during one of the World Wars. Does this travesty of the English language qualify Joe Naper as an idiot for not calling this out. Recently the Naperville city council had an associate professor of English on the dais for what seemed like 30 years and she never noticed the ‘mistakes’.

Current councilman Ian Holzhauer took it a step further by saying “this is a significant issue in our community”. Since when are pronouns considered a “significant issue” in Naperville.

Holzhauer then punctuated his comment with a profound bit of wisdom by saying, ‘women have been in the World for a long time’. That was very astute on his part.

We can’t find fault with Sullivan for lobbing out a politically correct, hand-grenade as a so-called problem. However, we can find fault with council members (Kelly, Chirico, and Holzhauer) for actively picking-up the grenade and tossing it around. The only council member attempting to “call out” Sullivan was councilwoman Patty Gustin when she questioned the logic and timing of focusing on pronouns rather than the current budget preparation.

It’s interesting, that if you listen to Sullivan’s comments during meetings, the words ‘he’ and ‘his’ present themselves often. It would seem that Sullivan would be more consistent. The same is true for Kelly, Chirico, and Holzhauer. It will be interesting to see how council members vote regarding the use of pronouns.

If Sullivan wants to be part of the solution, rather than being part of the ‘problem’, she can take the extra time she has available, to tackle correcting the 235 pronoun mistakes and presenting the politically correct version to the council for approval, thereby freeing staff time to focus on the important, rather than the frivolous.

Show 14 Comments


  1. Gerard Schilling

    Language has it consequences. When languages evolved individuals far more intelligent, goal directed and socially minded determined he, she and it described all possible situations. Any person who isn’t a he or she by definition is a it. It describes nitwits and morons who are psychosexually confused if not outright crazy. BTW many studies indicate at least 10% of the population are ambulatory schizophrenics. Based on how they act, elect politicians and promote policies I think it is grossly understated. In any case this is the absolute last thing our paid council members should be wasting their time and our money on!

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    I agree words have power, but words are part of a language and all the languages spoken today are millennia old. The grammar and structure of these languages were set thousands of years ago and were partially influence by the social norms at that time.

    The simple linguistic reality is that all nouns in all languages have a gender associated with them (masculine, feminine or neutral). In some languages some nouns have different gender forms (like businessman, businesswoman, businessperson or amigo,amiga, etc) but others do not (man, women, hombre, mujer). In some languages dog is a masculine noun and cat is a feminine noun. The proper pronoun to use with each noun is the one that matches the gender of that noun.

    So if it is a masculine noun then the proper pronoun to use is masculine, and for feminine nouns the feminine pronoun is proper usage. Doing this is not a judgement of anyone’s lifestyle, beliefs, politics, etc it is simply grammar. So unless it is your intent to declaring war on English grammar then one needs to look at the context in which a pronoun is used to determine the objective trying to be communicated. And simply counting the number of occurrences of a pronoun does nothing to determine communication objectives or intent.

    Yes, I agree there are times when we have a grammatical choice in what noun-pronoun combinations we use and we should be thoughtful of how we use them when making this choice. But simply declaring war on a pronoun because of the current political winds surrounding a given gender it represent is not being thoughtful. In fact, when carried to extremes, such behavior can actually be irrational.

    So lets not let political ideologies push us to irrational behavior because no one, in the long run, will benefit from such behavior.

  3. Kurt Dorr

    Sullivan and Holzhauer need to go. They are both a train wreck.

  4. Stephanie

    I recently moved here from Oklahoma to Naperville. Naperville is a wonderful community, well run, and I think ahead of its time in a lot of ways compared to other communities. I moved here in part because I am transgender and discrimination is pretty rampant in Oklahoma since it is a red state and every county voted for Donald Trump who contributed to huge increases in discrimination against many groups, including my own as a trans woman and being LGBTQ+. Please don’t regress to being like Oklahoma in Naperville. Respect people’s pronouns and accept them for who they are, how they were born, how I was born. We already have a tough enough situation we have to deal with on a daily basis. I’ve already been through the ringer since I’m older. My concern is mostly for the generations coming up now that our children. The bottom line is this, “Why discriminate against us more?” What do you have to gain by your discrimination?

    • James Haselhorst

      Having spent my childhood growing up in the 60’s in conservative states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and finally Colorado (Yes in the 60’s Colorado was about as “Red” as a state could be) I have seen lots of discrimination based on gender, age, ethnicity and religion.

      The reasons people engage in discrimination are many, but what they “gain” is always the same – a convenient scapegoat for all their problems that make them feel better about themselves since they no longer have to accept responsibility for these problems because they are cause by others and not their own bad judgement or decisions.

      As to our city’s charter and its use of pronouns. It is important first to realize that this charter’s use of the masculine pronoun is not the result of discrimination but simply proper English grammar, which dictates that any pronoun match the gender of the noun it refers too. And in the English language words like mayor, council, director, etc while gender neutral in use are linguistically (grammatically) masculine gender nouns dictating the use of a masculine gender pronoun.

      It has been decades since the last time I read the Naperville City Charter, so I can not say for certain that all the masculine gender pronouns in the Charter can be explained by grammar. But it is also important to remember this document is centuries old and changing it (a document that probably before this council meeting less than 100 people in Naperville had actually read) is not the solution to discrimination or even a productive use of the valuable resources needed to combat true discrimination in our community.

      I will further point out that the US Constitution also contains the masculine pronoun and not once does a feminine pronoun appear in this document. Are you recommending this document be re-written? The fact is the city charter is a legal document and all legal documents use proper grammar and proper pronouns because of they have to hold up to the microscopic legal analysis such document can be subjected to in a court. Also making changes to this document are restricted by state statue and has serious legal consequence for our community.

      One could engage in a lengthy discussion of whether grammar is in some way biased or discriminatory but is this really a productive discussion? The gender based grammar rules only apply to basically European languages or roughly only one in four languages in the world. Does fixating on grammar really do anything to advance the fight against discrimination? Or does it only further distract from the battles that really need to be fought? If there is one thing I have learned over the years and living in many different communities in this country as well as others it is that laws do not change attitudes or beliefs. Only educations and civil discussions can achieve this goal.

      Lets not, as a community, expend our energies (need to fight true discrimination) by first politicizing English grammar and then turning it into a battleground and political slogans, that can be used by politicians to advance their political ambitions. Lets remain focus on the real problems of discrimination that exist in our community that need to be addressed to insure all the citizens of Naperville are being treated equally and fairly based on who they are as a person and not what they are base on gender, age or ethnicity.

  5. Matt Latourette

    If this is all the watchdog has to write about then Naperville is in good shape. Good to see city council members trying to be inclusive.

    • watchdog

      Yes, Naperville is in good shape, however if ‘better’ if possible, then ‘good’ is not enough.

      • Matt

        Agree. No outage over this, seems most are fine with this so it’s a good way to make Naperville “better” and be more inclusive. Naperville has its own Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Manager. Progress towards better!

  6. Kurt Dorr

    This describes Naperville to a T.

  7. Sam Adams

    Sullivan is catering to individuals with mental disorders who need counseling, they don’t need people like Sullivan affirming and reinforcing their afflictions.
    It has been proven countless times by clinical psychologists that people who think they are born in the wrong gender are people who suffer from mental illness such as bipolar disorder, gender identity disorder
    Next thing you know, she will be calling for the creation of “safe spaces”.
    Theresa Sullivan is unfit for office and needs to be removed.

  8. Bob

    What idiocy is this! We have a city to run and pronouns are NOT imperative to running it! How about the council spend more time on the budget and understanding it?

  9. Matt

    The bigoted comments here define Naperville well.

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