The outgoing mayor of Naperville considered his legacy and summed up his community compared to others:
Q: What will be your legacy as mayor of Naperville?
A: It has to be the financial impact on the city. Eight years seems like a long time, but it’s not when you’re trying to turn a ship like that. To turn over the city with tons of cash, not to mention federal money we didn’t touch, they’re going to be able to do a lot. And that’s my gift, to make sure the city was on the right trajectory. We’re the envy of what most cities want to be.
One of the jobs of a mayor is to champion their community. They are often the chief booster. In many American communities, professional staff – a city manager and others – address day-to-day concerns while mayors work with a council and act as cheerleader. The outgoing mayor earlier in the interview described the suburb’s success in planning, development, and revenues. Yet, always highlighting the best of the community is key and Naperville has a precedent: former mayor George Pradel did this for decades. I assume mayors will say their community is great.
Yet, it can be interesting when mayors make statements that involve other communities, implied or otherwise. It is one thing to say your community is great; it is another to say that it compares well to other communities. Some communities can be leaders or models for others. In the United States, this might involve growth or a high quality of life or economic opportunities or tackling particular issues.
Do most cities want to be Naperville or like Naperville? This might be hard to answer, particularly if leaders elsewhere will tend to focus on the good things in their own communities.