Should Naperville be concerned about getting people to volunteer for boards or commissions or frankly anything? A month ago, I would have said ‘probably not’, but now I’m not so sure, considering the recent fiasco of filling two volunteer positions, one for the library board, the other for the SECA commission. The problem most likely wouldn’t be quantity of candidates, but the quality of future candidates.
Naperville has nine council members. With a population of over 144,000 residents, does anyone really think the nine we have are the best we can do? I seriously doubt it, and I think the majority of the nine would agree. However, they are the best of those marketing themselves, who chose to run for office.
Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan said the process for selecting nominees to fill the open ‘positions’ typically is an efficient process, but this turned into a circus. Councilman Paul Leong didn’t agree with the ‘circus’ description, however he said it best, when he said he’s concerned about how this will impact future people from volunteering. He went on to say, “Votes are cast. We live with the consequences.”
That’s how democracy works.
Yes, these board and committee members are volunteers. And each mayor has had their own process for how they select who they interview for any vacant positions. In Mayor Chirico’s case he tends to approach people that ran for public office in the most recent cycle, but were not elected, about volunteering for different boards. This is how these two candidates came to be considered by Chirico.
It is rare to have someone run for public office in Naperville that does not have a solid history of volunteering in the community already. Naperville is a city with a strong volunteer community and history, so there are thousands of motivated, concerned, engaged and welling volunteers in Naperville. It is only a matter of personal opinion who is most qualified or able, since everyone has their own set of metrics they use in measuring these qualities.
For example one could easily question the wisdom of selecting people that the majority of Naperville residents did not vote for in a past election for mayoral appointments to city government. But Mayor Chirico’s past appointees, selected this way, have preformed well, which would tend to indicate this is a good method of screening possible appointees. Not a flawless or perfect method, but a good first step. This works because Chirico does not have the final say, the city council does.
And this is not the first time that the initial candidates selected by Chirico did not become the final candidates appointed. When this has happened in the past it just did not get this much public discussion. The assumption that all it take to get appointed to these boards is Chirico’s endorsement is simply flawed.
And as I have pointed out in comments posted on the last two articles you have written on this subject, the conversation between Chirico and these candidates were not public so we do not know what was said by these candidates initially that got them nominated. And we do not know what was said during any private conversations Chirico had with these candidates after concerns were raised that influenced any shift in Chirico’s decision. So all these assumptions and speculation are just that. And we all know the old saying about when we “assume”.
In fact the lack of transparency by possible appointees on certain issues was exactly what raised concerns in the first place. Ignoring concerns about transparency is not something any of us should ever consider encouraging any government organization of leader to do.
The main point here is quantity vs. quality, and how to define the quality. There are bunches of individuals on the city streets wants to be ‘ library board’. And, who qualified?