Thursday, January 22, 2015

State of the City a Major Mayor Milestone

In honor of Mayor A. George Pradel’s final State of the City address, let’s take a look back at the history of Naperville’s mayors.

You might think that Joseph Naper was our first mayor — but you’d only be sort of right. Although founded in 1831, Naperville wasn’t incorporated as a village until 1857 when the first government was formed. Joseph Naper was elected, but as President, not Mayor, and he served for one year with the assistance of city trustees.

Every year that followed, a new man was elected to the Presidency, including such local notables as Merrit S. Hobson, Morris Sleight, Robert Naper and R.N. Murray.

Judge Myron C. Dudley held the position most often and was mayor for four consecutive terms from 1869 until 1872. 

Naperville incorporated as a city in 1890 which was when we elected our first mayor — James J. Hunt. Hunt had also served as President a couple of times and as a trustee so he was a natural selection.

The mayoral position continued to be elected on an annual basis until 1913 which was when the Chamber of Commerce was founded. Francis Kendall was elected that year and was re-elected in 1915.

Our Mayor Pradel holds the record as the longest-serving mayor and he’ll likely hold on to his title as voters approved term limits in 2010.

Pradel was first elected in 1995 and has served five terms for a total of twenty years in office. The next closest mayoral stint was James L. Nichols (son of the library patron James Nichols) who served for three terms and a total of sixteen years.

So far, Naperville has only had one female mayor, Peg Price. She was elected in 1983 and served two terms for our city.

Mayor Pradel was introduced by then NACC Chairman Brad McGuire at the 2005 State of the City luncheon as “His Hotness” and certainly he has left an indelible mark on our city. No one else will be like Mayor Pradel — as it should be — and we will soon have the opportunity to choose his successor.

At a networking event many years ago, a short, older man  introduced himself to people with “Hi, I’m George. I work for the city.” That sort of sums it all up, doesn’t it?