Naperville appoints first mayor emeritus

A new Pradel-less era is underway in Naperville – or not, considering he was just named mayor emeritus

All city council members said they agreed with the sentiment of recognizing Pradel and giving him a title from which to continue volunteering to represent the city at ceremonial events, as he has done so frequently for the past two decades…

The resolution creates the honorary position of “mayor emeritus” specifically for Pradel and only for as long as Steve Chirico, who proposed the position, is mayor. As mayor rmeritus, Pradel, 77, is envisioned to act as a “goodwill ambassador” for the city at ceremonial functions, and to do so without a salary or a budget…

But council member Becky Anderson said she thinks Pradel’s is a special case. He’s the city’s longest-serving mayor who also worked nearly 30 years as a police officer and became known as “Officer Friendly.” Anderson called Pradel Naperville’s “favored son.”

An interesting move that allows Pradel to do what many said was the thing he did best: be a cheerleader for Naperville. Yet, this raises two additional issues for me:

1. This could be viewed either as trying to maintain some continuity with the past (not necessarily a bad thing in a community that has been pretty successful in recent decades) or an inability to move on from the past and seize the new era.

2. Why don’t more local governments have such cheerleader/figurehead positions? This may be written into the jobs for certain people – say, mayors in certain forms of government who don’t have much power or economic development directors – but not everyone has the skills to do this. If countries have these sorts of positions – a president or prime minister who shows the public face but the real work is done elsewhere by other people – why not local governments? My first guess would be that they wouldn’t want another salary to pay.