Candidate Questionnaire Responses

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Expanding recycling and composting, reducing waste at its source, and minimizing food waste have environmental, economic, and climate benefits.

Do you think the city should support waste reduction, recycling, and composting through ordinances, education and/or other actions?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
I would love to see the city expand its compost program. Reducing food waste is not only good for the environment by reducing carbon emissions; it would be good for Naperville’s budget.  The more we compost, the less landfill space we need and taxpayers’ money is saved. The waste can be used as fertilizer or converted into a biogas energy source. Cities like Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon would be good models for residential composting. Education is key, and there is a lot that the city could do to make residents aware of the recycling programs the city offers. For example, when I posted on social media about Christmas tree light recycling, many followers didn’t realize that was an option.

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
Yes… I want to develop a plan to compost food waste within the city limits by focusing on our downtown restaurants' food that they throw out. Instead of hauling the food away, I would like to work with them to compost it within the city limits. Currently, four different food removal companies are working with our city's restaurants, and they are not working together to help that food find a common drop-off.

We are also one of the few cities that has been recycling consistently for years. At the same time, a lot has happened in the world of recycling. I believe we need to improve our communication and education about our recycling efforts with our community. I would endorse a program reaching out to our citizens that would begin in the council chambers. We need to explain that it's more than just recycling bins.

Ashley South (City Council)
Waste reduction, recycling, and composting need to be part of our everyday conversations. There is a lot of misinformation about what can be recycled and how to properly sort. The city can start with education and helpful reminders. In the 80s, refrigerator magnets were put in to the mailboxes on my street to help remind us to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and what fit into each of those categories.

For residents, I think ordinances can feel a bit heavy handed and they are also hard to enforce. Ordinances for businesses should absolutely be implemented. First, I would look at our grocery stores. Right off the bat, Casey’s comes to mind. I saw two oranges packaged together using cellophane and Styrofoam. Two oranges. That is a huge waste. At the deli counter, containers they use come in three different sizes and there is no recycling program. I would gladly bring in back in my containers for them to be sanitized and put back out. As it is, when we buy from the deli, we simply add to our stash and give them away to family and friends when we have holiday leftovers. Additionally, ordinances about giving away food that is within days of expiration to our local food pantries. Ordinances for these wasteful things at the grocery store can help significantly.

Additionally, ordinances about the containers could be applied to restaurants. Hugo’s used to give away plastic containers and have recently switched to a compostable paper version.

Communications and ordinances are one thing, but as a city, the government needs to proclaim and live sustainability with everything they do – send out the message to the world that Naperville is a sustainable city.  

Jodi Trendler (City Council)
Yes.  Reducing waste is a dramatic way we can improve our quality of life here in Naperville.  It can reduce emissions, pollution and save taxpayer money. Innovating to develop a circular economy in our community can be a critical opportunity for economic development.  These efforts will require significant and consistent community education and outreach.  Please see the "Waste" chapter of the "Sustainable Naperville 2036" report for which I was lead author: https://www.sustainnaperville.org/2036 - or you can vote for me to work to implement the positive changes we need in this area.

Josh McBroom (City Council)
Yea

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
I do think that the city can and should take the lead in setting up systems that encourage waste reduction, recycling, and composting. Education is the first step to achieving these goals. Using e-newsletters that address specific topics like 'does aluminum foil belong in the recycling bin', 'how do I prepare a milk jug for recycling' etc. will empower more people to recycle items that can be recycled. Composting poses its own challenges, especially in light of our aversion to unpleasant smells and the sight of rotting material. Establishing neighborhood composting stations would be one way of encouraging more people to consider composting as a doable option.  

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
Naperville is my Home. I moved here over 18 years back and have built my business, raised my family & have been involved with the community. Currently I serve on the Wheatland Township as an Elected Trustee & elected member on the White Eagle Board. Professionally, I am the Finance Executive for a Global Company. I am the Women Chair and lead volunteer for Indian Community Outreach & have been instrumental in organizing India Day Festival and many other events.

I am intellectually honest with the approach to issues. I believe the decisions we make today will significantly impact the livability in Naperville for generations to come. I also bring in a much-needed viewpoint from a minority on the council. My strong finance and business background of 20+ years, experience as elected official, experience working with several Boards, volunteering experience of over 20 years, & having raised my family and business in Naperville, not only motivates me but also qualifies me to be the best candidate for the job.

My family, instilled in me the values of hard work, service, and, above all, responsibility for ourselves, our community, and our future.

Yes, absolutely. Waste reduction, recycling, and composting have great benefits. Energy savings, pollution reduction, reducing huge load of waste lead to an overall healthy environment. The city government should recommend an economically sound, healthy, inclusive, and resilient community.

Education in schools on waste management study should be an extremely necessary segment. It should also be implemented in the private and public sector, government offices, and even on the local authority level.

We should encourage households to donate unused clothing and shoes, electronics and building material to make sure others can reuse them too. Special grants and funding from the state and federal government to specific education on environmental protection can help the city government to conduct these programs.

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
Naperville city has a great recycling program as compared to any other city in Illinois including Chicago.  I support educating residents and commercial organizations with best practices.

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
Yes. I think education is particularly important in these areas, but if there are potential ordinances that could be used to support waste reduction and increase recycling and/or composting, it would be worthwhile for City Council to consider such ordinances.

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
Yes. Helping residents understand and have more access to waste reduction, recycling, and composting can only help residents and our sustainability measures. 

Benny White (Mayor)
First I want to say how much I appreciate that the body of knowledge on this subject persists beyond elections thanks to NEST and our city staff.  We know that environmental awareness and action should get serious attention that lasts long after the election season is over.

Naperville has been very successful in encouraging recycling for its residential customers. There is an ongoing need to provide education to ensure that our residents’ efforts are well-applied, such as awareness of recyclable materials whose condition prevents them from being recycled. Also, our growing reliance on internet shopping has led to a marked increase in packaging waste. Recycling this is of course ideal, but reducing the amount of packaging waste that needs to be recycled would be even better. This again is an opportunity for education as well as to support local businesses.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
I believe the most important job of the Mayor of Naperville is to listen. I’ll always have an open door to anyone who has important issues they feel are affecting our community. It is important that every constituent or group be respected through the process. While I can’t promise that everyone will agree with my position on every item, I believe in showing respect throughout the democratic process.

I recognize that as Mayor, there are also opportunities to lead community conversations and allow community organizations and groups to have a voice through unofficial government actions.

For instance, if there were better ways to support waste reduction, recycling, and composting that could be shared with the community, I would look for ways to facilitate outreach to the community by partnering with expert groups. Outreach like this simply takes the will and commitment of public officials to use their roles to connect and educate the community.

Fundamentally, I believe we can achieve more through educational outreach and encouragement than by passing ordinances regulating activities within a family’s personal residence.

__________

Our largest energy users in Naperville are our buildings. All residents, especially low-income residents, can benefit from savings through energy efficiency, solar, and weatherization.

Is supporting more stringent building energy efficiency standards and/or expanded incentives a good idea? What are the important considerations?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
The city stands to save taxpayer dollars by making its own buildings more efficient, and staff has already said they are taking inventory of building improvements. Part of the NEST work plan is to establish standards in every remodel and new project. The city could incentivize future-proofing infrastructure and construction. If your kids moved back to Naperville in 10 years, what are they going to look for? A home with a smaller footprint? Electric vs gas, net-zero, EV charging? New construction could have the infrastructure built in, which would save homeowners the cost of having to retro-fit in the future. Naperville follows the state standards, but we could be leading by going further than the standards. In the long run, it will lower residents’ fuel costs and also reduce city expenses.

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
I would encourage increased energy efficiency standards for new buildings. However, I would like first to learn how we stand compared to our neighbors. Based on those learnings, I would like to review and possibly propose ordinances for new construction. I understand that the last time we updated our standards was in 2017 - 2018. It's time to take a look given the challenges of climate change and the power grid. 

Ashley South (City Council)
Yes – once again, I feel this comes down to communications and in this case incentives. Our building owners my not know what they can do to help and my not see why they should care. This is a two-pronged approach. First is educating the building owners are whether they are a candidate for solar and providing a rubric for the consideration. Second, incentives for adding solar or becoming LEED Certified. The costs associated with LEED may be able to be covered or rebated back to the city. Because building new building is a bigger drain on resources than updating older buildings, we need to start with the buildings first. They are 80% of our emissions.

I would propose a separate individual task force in charge of reaching out of building owners and identifying buildings where this task force can specifically help. When considering, need to look at the age of the building. 

Jodi Trendler (City Council)
Yes, this is a good idea. Naperville currently updates our codes every 7 years, and the State updates them every three years.  This is not adequate given the rapid pace of technology changes that make buildings more efficient, safer, and healthier.  By not keeping pace with technology it leaves Naperville building owners and tenants stuck with out-dated stock and left to shoulder the responsibility of upgrading, which is always more expensive than if constructed with the best options possible at the time.  Naperville expects more than sub-par construction. This is also of crucial concern for affordable housing because utility costs compose a higher portion of living expenses for limited income residents and minimizing this expense is critical.  Higher energy efficiency standards are critical for addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in our community.  There needs to be a more efficient, on-going process to update codes rather than the year-long process it typically takes. It would also be ideal to incentivize building permits which include better than the required minimum standards, as is recommended and supported by examples from other municipalities in the Sustainable Naperville 2036 report.

Josh McBroom (City Council)
Yes, but only if it makes economic sense 

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
Yes, more stringent energy efficiency standards for new construction as well as large scale renovations would be a good idea. Since savings gained through these measures benefit the builder’s customers, I don’t believe additional incentives need to be offered. Incentives are an expense for the city and I think any such money saved could be applied toward other sustainability efforts. 

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
Stringent Building energy codes ensure that they use energy efficiently over the life of the building. The standards provide smart designs and safe construction methods that reduce property damage and utility bills.

Energy codes are not just designed to protect natural resources but also make building safer for generations to come. Since in older building energy waste is one of the most expensive consequences, new building codes are being enforced to energy conservation and becomes more important for financial and environment reasons as well for residents of all income groups.

Where possible, buildings should should install solar panel to make use of sunlight and convert it into clean energy. Weatherization in all size of buildings and homes should be diligently followed to save energy and cost.

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
Educating consumers to start using low energy light bulbs and low energy refrigeration / air-condition through exchange rebates for low-income will be the focus. 

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
Yes, I think supporting more stringent building energy efficiency standards and/or expanded incentives are both good ideas.  City Council has spent a considerable amount of time working on an incentive program to encourage the construction of affordable housing units, and I think that program could be a model for how to also incentivize increased energy efficiency in our buildings.  Important considerations would include how to make the most significant impact possible, while at the same time not stifling growth or encouraging the construction of buildings that would be otherwise unacceptable to surrounding residents.

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
Implementing new standards can cause confusion and frustration when building new developments and renovating spaces.  However, standards have historically changed anytime we believe there is a potential danger that could arise from existing standards. If we set a goal to reduce energy usage as a city, with the additional benefit of savings to the residents and businesses in usage charges, then we should align our standards accordingly. 

Benny White (Mayor)
Building construction standards evolve without Naperville needing to intervene, but yes, we should support those standards as part of achieving our sustainability goals. The construction industry adapts as the standards evolve. And as they do, new opportunities arise, both for them and for customers looking to satisfy their own sustainability goals.

Businesses can deduct the cost of qualifying commercial building improvements, which include those for energy efficiency. This gives Naperville a compelling argument to encourage commercial building owners to upgrade their properties and reduce their reliance on IMEA’s coal-based power—without conflicting with the terms of the city’s power contract. And it offers opportunities for Naperville businesses to provide those upgraded services. This helps our economy as well as moving us towards our sustainability goals.

We do have to consider that as building standards evolve, there is a lag between rules being adopted and the wide availability of products and materials that satisfy those rules. We cannot push residents into a Catch-22 where they must meet either the latest or some unique local standards, but aren’t able to comply due to acquisition hurdles or supply chain problems. We must be aware of the cost and roadblocks the city’s actions would impose so that we aren’t creating more problems for residents than we solve.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
I’d like to share a personal experience as a way of explaining my position. For decades, the company I own has led the industry with sustainable and resilient construction methods. Recently, we invested millions in solar installations and own one of the largest community solar projects in the area.  It wasn’t easy and took a significant capital investment.  I learned a lot and frequently share my experiences with other business owners.

I understand that other business owners may not be in the position to invest the capital in solar projects at this time. The pandemic and historically bad inflation are major obstacles to overcome.  I believe that we should adopt a carrot versus stick approach to engage our residents and businesses to help themselves save money and our planet.

There are competing priorities that must be balanced regarding energy efficiencies and affordable housing, two separate public policy goals.

Illinois’ Energy Efficient Building Act and codes are well respected, but they result in costs for finishing a project.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, so we would need to solicit and have the input of proven affordable housing developers to determine what impact changes to the building codes or other policies would have on the economic feasibility of their proposals.

I believe the most important job of the Mayor of Naperville is to listen and facilitate understanding.

__________

Mature tree canopies shade buildings, saving energy and carbon emissions while enhancing quality of life for residents. Deep rooted prairie plants, when planted in lieu of conventional turf grass sequester carbon, attract pollinators, enhance the biodiversity of our suburban ecosystems, and aid in stormwater management.

How can the city protect and enhance our natural resources?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
We could require developers to take sustainability into consideration in their designs and to think long-term about materials they are using, how much green space they are incorporating into their plans for commercial and residential space, and the negative impacts they might be causing during construction. I am also a supporter of the DuPage Monarch Project, which is partnering with many local organizations (Park District, Forest Preserve, Library, etc) to encourage monarch-friendly landscaping and gardens. This even came up at the February 7 Council meeting. There are many items on the NEST work plan that the city should implement. Simply planting more trees will keep neighborhoods cooler in the summer and could mitigate basement flooding!

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
I applaud the city for what it is done in protecting our trees over the years from various infections. I also have been impressed with the approach of the park district in creating sustainable parks, grasses, and flowers. I would work with the city and the park district to extend these concepts along our roadsides. Instead of just cutting grass, why not create a growing space for natural pollinators.

I have also been impressed with how some schoolyards have used Prairie grass for their front yards. I want to work with the school districts and even major employers to expand these natural gardens and Prairie land. 

Ashley South (City Council)
Since our residential homes have a good majority of the manicured lawns, I believe the city can project and enhance our natural resources by communicating about water usage and native plants. There is a cost savings to the resident when they use less water for these lawns. Further, the city has a program to replace trees that can be further communicated. I only found out about the program when one of our trees had to be moved because of a fence. And additionally, the city should at least talk about mulching our leaves and putting them back into our beds. That mulch helps with erosion as spring warms up our yards. It helps to retain water for the flower beds.

Additionally, we have several parks that have a lawn that could be converted to natural plants. One that comes to mind is by the train station. There is a playground surrounded by about 2-3 acres of lawn. Not only does the lawn require more water, but city must dispatch a team to cut and manicure the grass.

We have a lot of parks and green spaces that could use a review with the park district. 

Jodi Trendler (City Council)
As explained in the Sustainable Naperville 2036 report “Natural Resources” chapter, we need to incentivize transitioning resource intensive and polluting lawns into native plant or edible gardens as other municipalities have done.  This would save taxpayer money, reduce air, soil and water pollution and support our local ecosystem. This should be done on municipally owned properties as standard operating procedure, and should be incentivized for residents from the savings generated from implementation on municipal property that no longer requires mowing.

Josh McBroom (City Council)
Plant natural prairie grasses where possible.  They clean the water and don’t requiring mowing. 

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
Doing an environment impact study before undertaking any project would be a good place to start. In recent years, the city has done a good job of planting prairie plants, placing no mowing signs in sensitive areas, etc. Encouraging new developments, both commercial and residential, to plant native plants, especially that attract pollinators, would go a long way in improving our environment. Here the city could offer specialists on its staff to work with the landscapers to achieve this objective.

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
It is very important to engage and educate the community to create and raise awareness of sustainability plan. Eco-friendly practices, deep rooted plants, green spaces supporting technology to reduce air pollution, and CO2 emissions can be great way to protect natural resources. Sustainable cities are becoming essential in the quest to reverse global climate change. 3 Rs are always effective – Reduce Reuse and recycle.

Making some days walk to school and /or work. Encouraging carpools. Promoting green building culture that will conserve water energy and waste. Reduces carbon emissions. Installing smart HVAC systems will also help in protecting our natural resources.

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
Partner with biodiversity groups to educate residents on the importance of planting prairie plants

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
We can protect our mature trees by continuing our Emerald Ash Borer treatment plan, and by staying at the front edge of any other similar invasive pest/species issues.  The City Council can also make a commitment, through our budget, to plant more native plants/prairie grasses/etc., that will enhance the biodiversity of our suburban ecosystems.

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
As an example: As a resident, my home is surrounded by large, aging, canopy trees. We love them!  But they are expensive to maintain properly.  This can be cost prohibitive and therefore residents may choose to remove them rather than maintain them. Building strong partnerships with Home Owners Associations, developers, arborists, and environmental groups may help educate, share resources, and ultimately save some of the vegetation that has such a positive impact on our quality of life. At the end of the day people care most when they understand how it impacts their daily lives, and as a city, we must take some responsibility for educating residents. 

Benny White (Mayor)
Well, anyone who has had a gripe about our leaf collection program can attest to how Naperville has no shortage of mature trees! They are both a beautiful asset that enhances the aesthetic of any neighborhood that has them, and the bane of anyone who owns a rake or leaf blower.  We urge residents to replace any trees lost in the parkway from disease or from storm damage with a 50-50 cost sharing. This ensures that the overall green aesthetic is maintained, and that the energy and environmental advantages are perpetuated for decades to come.

Local nurseries, the Morton Arboretum, and the College of DuPage all offer information and formal and informal classes about how to incorporate native plants and pollinators into our landscaping and ideally replace some turf with prairie plants. We haven’t had a drought in a while, but every time northern Illinois has a dry summer we see the advantages of the deep-rooted plants that you mention that are still green as the shallow-rooted grass turns brown. We should maintain the watering restrictions that have worked well for several years without causing hardship to our residents and businesses.

We can also look for locations on city property where typical lawn grass could be replaced with vegetation alternatives that would require less maintenance and enhance biodiversity.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
For decades, Naperville has proudly led as a nationally recognized Tree City USA community. Throughout this time and beyond, the city has maintained its model land donation program to the Naperville Park District which requires development to contribute park land.  I will continue to support his partnership.

There are countless opportunities for the city to experiment, explore, and implement biodiversity throughout Naperville. Additionally, there are potential maintenance savings to be had that help these projects pay for themselves beyond the environmental benefit. 

For decades, my company has elected to use environmentally safe de-icing solutions instead of road salt on our properties.  We should be exploring ideas like these where conditions allow.

I’m running to be a good steward of Naperville in every facet, including its environmental wellbeing.

__________

Naperville’s electricity supplier is among the dirtiest in the State of Illinois with 70% of Naperville’s electricity coming from coal power plants. Transitioning away from our current power supply is our highest impact action to reduce Naperville’s carbon emissions to curb global warming and attract businesses that have climate commitments.

Would you support a resolution that commits Naperville to a responsible transition from coal to clean energy?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
While I support moving from coal to clean energy, I am not a fan of resolutions. It would prefer council direct staff to take specific action. As a leader in the United States in other areas, Naperville should lead on this issue as well. Council should direct staff to lead the existing consortium by requiring IMEA to replace tranches with renewable resources as they reach maturity. There are cheaper and cleaner alternatives. We can and must do better.

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
Yes.

We will write a new strategic plan over the next few years. I would support and want to develop as deeper dive into clean energy while understanding that our position with the Naperville power plant must remain competitive. Our program so far delivers electricity almost 10% cheaper than ComEd to our citizens. There has to be a way to maintain that edge while increasing solar panels and updating the electric grid.

Ashley South (City Council)
No one knows this dirty fact about Naperville. When I found out about it, I met with everyone I could to understand why and how we found ourselves as a partial owner of a coal plant. I think if more people knew the fact that 70% of our energy comes from coal, you would see far greater support and engagement. People believe that the city has their best interests in mind and don’t ask those questions. After I found out, I added sustainability to as a large portion of my platform. In my stump speech, I say that I would get the city to commit to “going green by adding it to their mission statement”.

100% I support a resolution that commits Naperville to a responsible transition from coal to clean energy. I believe this lens of adding “Go Green” to our mission statement is necessary for all city business coming before council so that sustainability is always considered when making decisions. 

Jodi Trendler (City Council)
I would support this if it actually provides the legal footing to ensure prioritization, action and enforcement.  If it does not, I will work to create the most effective mechanism to do so.  Because it will require a significant amount of time to plan, one of my first priorities is to address this issue by establishing a task force specifically focused on this issue and which is allowed access to all of the information necessary to develop an appropriate plan to safely, effectively and efficiently transition our community to clean energy.  It will require a significant amount of time to plan for a clean energy transition that will work best for our community to prevent us from paying higher electricity rates, which is exactly what I advised City leadership would happen when I lobbied AGAINST getting into our energy contract in the first place. So now, 15 years later, we are not only purchasing dirty, human life and environment destroying electricity, but we are now HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars into ownership of  this dirty energy producing facility.  Addressing this issue is my primary reason for running, and what I would prioritize for action.  Please see "Introduction" and "Energy" sections of "Sustainable Naperville 2036" report for which I was lead author: https://www.sustainnaperville.org/2036 

Josh McBroom (City Council)
Yes, as long as a cost benefit analysis is conducted and proves to not be a burden on tax payers. 

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
Absolutely! With its commitment to sustainability, the City should continue its efforts to press the electricity supplier to reduce the share of coal for electricity generation. These efforts have already proven effective and should be continued. As new technologies become available, the city is likely to be studying options to find other suppliers, after the current contract expires, whose electricity generation has proportionately much higher share of renewable and non-carbon sources, like wind, solar, etc. 

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
Supporting responsible and balance transition is what we need as we do not want to completely discourage the resolution.

Wind and solar energy cannot stand on their own. They need support from some form of power backup from coal, nuclear units, natural gas, and batteries. Wind do not blow 24/7 at optimal speed and may not be able to produce electricity at certain times. Solar energy dependent on sun shines and requiring large amount of storage back up. We need to keep our homes constantly heated especially in Chicago weather like conditions. Also, their land mass requirement is immense.

On the other hand Coal energy is reliable, cheap, mature technology, independent of weather conditions and promotes job creation but unfortunately, not green or sustainable. It increases air pollution, health hazardous, causes destruction of habitats, etc.

At lower capacity compared to traditional sources the cost of transition will be very expensive. If we continue to our 3 R policies and more into protection of natural resources, then we should be able to achieve more sustainability.

While I support use of all clean energy, we will have to build a long term plan to transition as out clean energy generation mechanism matures.

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
Yes, provided a viable path can be established and financial implications are evaluated and agreed upon.  End result should be cleaner Naperville.  However, it should not cost the taxpayer

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
Yes. In my opinion, transitioning away from coal is the single most important thing we can do as a city to make a positive impact on the environment. I believe our overall electric supply consists of closer to 90% from coal, and City Council will have to exert its influence to force IMEA to make positive changes away from coal, and/or Council will have to fully explore alternative options in the event that IMEA insists on a contract renewal without being willing to make commitments to increasing its supply of clean energy.

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
Yes, and the clean energy alternatives must also be sustainable. Developing a plan of action that diversifies our energy sources and ensures they are reliable long-term is essential for providing the high quality of life we commit to in our mission. 

Benny White (Mayor)
Yes, definitely. At this point I would suggest that it would be one that is fairly general but supports that transition rather than committing to specific numbers in order to get consensus from the City Council. For a long time Naperville was able to brag about its lower energy costs, since we have our own municipal electric utility and are not trying to make a profit, as Com Ed or any private utility is. But now what we charge our customers for electricity might be more than neighboring communities. If you pair that with the fact that our neighboring suburbs have a better record than we do in reducing carbon emission, that puts us in a position we don’t want to be in, where we are both more expensive and less environmentally-friendly. Naperville should be a leader in sensible environmental policies that can both help our residents and businesses, not trail behind our neighbors. We will have to make decisions in the next few years about whether to extend our IMEA contract and what that will mean. I think Naperville residents want what is best both for the business and residential community in terms of cost and reducing pollution in Illinois.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
I would bring the same discipline, managerial approach, and vision I’ve used as I’ve led my own business, banks, and area non-profits to this issue. The job of the mayor and city council are to set the vision and challenge our staff to come up with responsible alternatives that are price and performance competitive.

Our city’s municipal utilities are actually very large, capital-intense corporations with a very limited customer base. We must have leadership that knows how to run these businesses and ensure they are responsibly managing their capital expenditures and daily operations. Mismanagement of either utility could have disastrous financial impact for residents.

Power plants aren’t built overnight. We should begin planning now for a responsible transition with our electric utility because relying on a coal-fueled power plant is simply not economical over the next several decades.

I have the executive experience to add substantial value to the council as they begin to deal with this issue.

__________

Naperville’s most recent strategic plan calls out sustainability as one of our important strategic imperatives. Action by business owners, schools, other government bodies, and our residents can help curb carbon emissions.

How can city government be a catalyst for climate action by the broader community?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
Much of it comes down to education and communication. Social Media can be a powerful tool to inform residents about their options. We also need to listen to our young voices. Climate change is an important issue for my daughters and their generation and the city could do a better job to encourage more youth participation on boards and commissions. It would be mutually beneficial for the city to give our kids a platform to carry their message of sustainability and to grow as leaders. I was thrilled to see students from NCHS approach the city about putting solar panels on top of school buildings. We need to elevate their voices and take their suggestions seriously.

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
Find ways to use less energy- from encouraging more bike riders to developing new, safe walking paths. 

Similar to setting up Sister City commissions that involve people from all over the city, set up a similar commission with the key public services (education and city government, the townships, churches, temples, mosques, large community organizations) and the top 20 employers to develop and implement a sustainability plan.  

Ashley South (City Council)
City government sets the tone for the city by where and how it supports programs funded by the city. Although the strategic plan calls out sustainability as one of the important imperatives, I have not seen that supported on the city’s website or in the communications out to residents. The City needs to start with communications and use the tools it has including creating taskforces and partnering with all stakeholders (business owners, schools, other bodies and our residents)

Business owners – Start with a taskforce and approach business owners to be part of it. Garner their support and leadership within the community. The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce would be a great start in that area. Bring the question to them and ask them to work on solving with their cohort. Assign me as council liaison to help guide the conversation.

Schools – Work with D203 and D204 to partner on communication out to students and parents (who are residents of Naperville). I remember so much of what I was taught in the 80s. It felt like there was a big push during that time and much of it has stayed with me.

Other Government Bodies – The Park District is a valuable partner to change some of the maintenance and plantings to ensure latest approach in sustainability lens is applied when planning. Beyond that, we can work with the county and state for grants and funding as well as guidance on implementation.

Residents – the NEST Sustainability Report outlines several recommendations to residents. This information is not easy to find on the City’s website. It is contained within the report. Once again as a city, this messaging is paramount for adoption. People have their own interests and daily activities. A continued message as part of the city’s identity will engender far greater adoption.

The city needs to lead by example and communicate the messaging with intentionality.

Jodi Trendler (City Council)
Although sustainability was identified as a priority by our community, it is not a priority.  There are limited resources allocated for implementation, and there is no strategic framework or objectives guiding implementation actions.  Unlike diversity, equity and inclusion - which is a critical component of sustainability (along with our natural resources, economy, and city operations), that has a PhD Manager level, position assigned to it for oversight, as well as specific funding, the 1.5 staff positions assigned to the initiative have limited agency over implementation strategies.  Additionally, the City needs to create and implement a full Collective Impact community education and engagement plan that includes efforts to coordinate community stakeholders beyond municipal operations, in order to effectively reduce emissions, save taxpayer money, and protect our environment and our people.  This will require new processes and procedures to be created and will require working with City leadership to develop.  Additionally, one of my primary platform issues, also highlighted in the Sustainable Naperville 2036 report at the end of every chapter, is improving community education, outreach and engagement that is citizen focused and transparent for significant community projects and developments.  Examples are given in the report - which you don’t need to read if you vote for me and trust in me to get it done!

Please see "Work Plan" in "Sustainable Naperville 2036" report for which I was lead author: https://www.sustainnaperville.org/2036 

Josh McBroom (City Council)
Always look for ways to move towards clean, renewable energy while balancing the reliability of energy delivery and the potential cost burden to the tax payer.  

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
Naperville, to some extent, is already doing that. By creating the position of a Sustainability Coordinator, the City is demonstrating its commitment to adopting policies and practices that are more environment friendly. A sharing of the information about how some of these practices are reducing our carbon footprint and especially sharing any cost savings affected by these practices are sure to increase the community’s interest in learning and perhaps adopting some of those practices in their own homes and businesses. 

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
The city government and leadership team must develop and work on strategic plans to develop and prepare climate change impacts in the city. Conserving and employing natural resources should be message in every household.

Engaging and communicate the local leaders, partners, nonprofits schools, commercials will help spreading the awareness. Partnering with local and diverse organizations, empowering, and supporting them will help promoting the city resilient city.

Currently as Elected Trustee of Wheatland Township, supported and worked in Teaming up with Will County for collection of residential fire extinguishers from will county residents for proper recycling. Hosting Recycling seasonal event which includes Electronics, Shredding and Pumpkin Catapult.

As a Homeowner Board Association Director, we have started initiative of Community standards, where our Homeowners are communicated and educated about their responsibilities towards the community enhancement and sustainability.

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
Naperville can set itself as a model town by embracing private-public partnership to become energy surplus city.  There are many opportunities where large private organizations can partner with city to generate solar energy and sell it back to the community.  Shared battery storage units in combination with private-public solar/wind energy generation, encouraging homeowners to shift to Solar power, there will be lesser demand for electricity and cleaner environment.

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
I think education is key in this area.  Now that we have 1.5 full time staff members focused on sustainability, we should be utilizing those resources to collaborate with and help educate our local business community, our school districts, etc., to ensure that taking positive climate action is a priority for as many different sectors in our city as possible.

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
City Government must set the example by making changes within our own city services.  Developing and implementing changes shows residents and businesses that we can walk-the-talk and have already done the trouble-shooting of issues as they arose.  This builds both confidence and trust in our further action to implement changes in the broader community.

Benny White (Mayor)
As I mentioned above, education is a key part in this. It’s not a one-time statement that we put out and call it done. It’s an ongoing process of building awareness and moving residents towards adoption of sustainable practices. That would need to happen through multiple avenues, including the schools. It’s a perfect example of ways to coordinate with Will and DuPage County Forest Preserve Districts, the Park District, and Districts 203 and 204.

One way we do it is by the city leading by example—showing families and businesses how certain practices can be incorporated into their routines, budgets and purchasing decisions without impeding their normal operations. Perhaps that includes green roofs on certain public buildings and solar panels on others.

Ultimately what I think this question is hinting at is, is there a bigger role for NEST in Naperville’s future? My answer to that is yes! City Council will continue to need insight in the years ahead from informed minds on how we can best pursue these goals, how other cities are pursuing them, and what successes they are seeing. The sustainability movement is not some fad or trend. It’s what our residents expect us to embrace, what our future requires and what a world with finite resources demands.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
City Government must set the example by making changes within our own city services.  Developing and implementing changes shows residents and businesses that we can walk-the-talk and have already done the trouble-shooting of issues as they arose.  This builds both confidence and trust in our further action to implement changes in the broader community.

__________

Electric vehicles and bikes are becoming more popular and this trend is expected to accelerate.

How can Naperville prepare for the increased adoption of electric transportation?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
New construction should be wired to be EV-ready. That’s not to say that new homes should be outfitted with chargers; just that garages should have the appropriate wiring. New commercial developments should be required to have a charging station in parking lots. Transportation looks different post-pandemic. We need to analyze where people are working, how they are getting there, and traffic levels. eBikes could be a game changer, and  bring a lot of considerations: 1) dedicated bike lanes, 2) charging stations, 3) parking, 4) battery recycling, 5) safety. The city should consider reinstating the Bike/Pedestrian subcommittee of the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB). Every new road project should take bikes into consideration, and we should be adding bike lanes where we can.

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
Let’s Pick up where we left off a few years ago when we installed the first public electric car chargers in our parking lots and expand their availability. I would also like to work with libraries, the park district, major businesses, churches, and mosques, to install charging stations for their clientele. 

Ashley South (City Council)
Infrastructure needs to be updated/replaced with the future in mind. In our parking garages, we should follow the examples of our neighboring towns and include charging stations. Part of the recommendations in the NEST report is for commuters to bike to train station. Ebikes are very much a part of that as well. The train station is a great spot for charging stations as well.

Commercial: As a city, we also need to create minimum requirements for developers looking to do business with us, so they include charging stations.

For our residents, Naperville provides tax incentives for electric lawn maintenance equipment. I would look to see if we can expand those incentives to ebikes and electric vehicles.

Jodi Trendler (City Council)
As recommended in the “Transportation” section of the Sustainable Naperville 2036 report, there is significant critical planning that needs to happen to ensure we are ready for the rapid rate of EV adoption across our community.  We need to ensure we have adequate infrastructure, rate pricing, and policies.  If we want to encourage visitors to our community we will need to plan on how to attract those with electric vehicles, in addition to parking facilities.  We know that EVs are 30% more efficient than current ICE vehicles and we need to promote their adoption to improve our air quality and public health.  Of critical importance as well is ensuring multifamily housing and businesses are also equipped with adequate charging infrastructure.

Josh McBroom (City Council)
I don’t have the best answer here. I would consult NEST, Brian Groth at the city and be open to expert opinion on this. I certainly am not the expert on this.   

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
As the use of electric vehicles and bikes becomes more prevalent, the city needs to prepare for it by installing fast charging stations at strategic locations throughout the city. The use of electric bikes would require some guidelines about road use and safety practices that the bike users must adhere to. 

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
I personally drive an Electric Vehicle and encourage others to buy Electric Vehicles as well. The rapid growth in Electric Vehicles today is a part of fundamental shift in transportation choice. It does benefit to car owners, individuals’ businesses, and communities. And this thus require and encourage car charging stations in new and existing developments.

A big problem people face when deciding to purchase an EV is the lack of charging stations. The city must set a goal based on electric vehicle sale to install network of charging stations. These stations must help to make EVs accessible to all for both local and long-distance trips. The federal government funding for EV charging stations will help local government to build infrastructure. There are several funding programs and other EV related indicatives which will benefit the communities and residents.

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
lectric cars cause high load on electric grid.  Study of peak demand, installing right load bearing switches, managed grid, educating consumers about peak and off-peak load times, different pricing for off-peak and peak hour electricity rates are some of the approaches to prepare the infrastructure that can handle power demand of electric cars. 

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
I believe the first step is education. We have local residents who are very knowledgeable in this area, and we should leverage that knowledge to start a wider discussion within the city on how to best prepare for the increasing use of eBikes.  Our city staff and Transportation Advisory Board should both consider opportunities and challenges that increased use of eBikes will present, with a particular focus on safety.

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
Using data from other communities who are ahead of us in this regard, we can being the process of future-proofing. Whether we encourage the increase in EVs or electric bikes or not, their numbers will continue to rise. One primary area of concern is safety for electric bike riders, so collaboration with the police department, TED, and fire departments can help us identify where we are most vulnerable to accidents. EVs bring the need for increased power usage in residential neighborhoods and in commercial developments which requires collaboration with the Electric Utility. These partnerships  with key stakeholders ensure solid decision-making. 

Benny White (Mayor)
The days of gas-powered vehicles dominating transportation are numbered. We’ll still see them on the roads for many years to come, but consumer preferences and industry commitments make it clear that they will become fewer and fewer after a few decades. Will our gas stations go the way of the dinosaur? Stores like Walmart, Jewel, and Home Depot,  see an opportunity in installing charging stations that top up your SUV while you roam the aisles. Even our local Showplace Movie Theatre, Walgreens, and North Central College offer at least a few charging stations. When the Water Street parking deck was created it purposely included a few spaces with charging stations, and our Paw Paw parking lot in downtown Naperville does as well.

The obvious new example pushing aside gas-powered vehicles is the EV, but even that might be knocked off the pedestal within our lifetime (perhaps by solid hydrogen vehicles?). Still, EVs are what we need to focus on for the immediate future. And you cannot have EVs without charging infrastructure.

The city is already leading the way with charging infrastructure in use for city vehicles. For new construction and qualifying home renovations, a city ordinance may be needed to ensure there is a hookup for a charging station. The average homeowner not pursuing any major home upgrades would be outside the reach of such an ordinance as a charging station would then be solely a matter of personal preference.

Another front in this is the impact it has on the city’s gas tax. That four cents per gallon funds the city’s road resurfacing budget. As EV usage increases, the revenue from the gas tax then declines. There will come a time when we’ll need a new funding source to keep that budget in line with the need.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
In this regard, the city has an electric utility, world-class fire and police departments, and a respected transportation and planning department. Based on my experience leading large complex organizations, I respect the difference between setting policy and directing tactics.

I believe we need to encourage our paid, professional staff to assess our utility and roadway networks and bring recommendations to the council and community. I believe this assessment should analyze a few key policy items for the mayor and city council to evaluate.

What is the impact of declining use of gasoline on the city’s motor fuel tax and how do we have a sustainable income stream to keep our roads and bridges in good shape?

What are the safety impacts and lessons learned from other municipalities regarding e-bikes, e-scooters and other mobility options that continue to come online?

What are the best practices from the electric utility perspective to deploy charging stations and other necessary changes to support the further electrification of our transportation sector?

When we begin to have answers from our staff and other interest groups, the city council can begin to develop a comprehensive policy and strategy that aligns with the electrification of our transportation network.

__________

Awareness of environmental concerns is rising.

What actions have you taken in your personal life to create a more sustainable environment/world?

Allison Longenbaugh (City Council)
My three daughters list Climate Change as one of their main concerns. My oldest daughter is even pursuing a degree in Environmental Science at the University of Washington! Like many other residents, I know I can do more, but I know I’m just scratching the surface. Currently I use public transportation, walk (and run!) whenever I can, and do things around my house like replacing bulbs with LEDs, using the dryer during off-peak times, and composting. The city should provide a dedicated page of resources where residents can find ways to add sustainability into their lives in a way that is accessible. 

Ashfaq  Syed (City Council)
Changing bulbs - 

Greenery and plants – tend the garden 

Waste of food

We try to use natural air and avoid ac and heaters 

Use of minimal light during the day and night time. 

Ashley South (City Council)
In my personal life, we have several actions that we personally live and I will admit that I learned event more after reading the sustainability report.

We bought a house downtown so we could walk to shop, eat, and for leisure. We walk everywhere in the summer. I used to live in New York and Chicago, and I prefer to walk. Because I didn’t want a gas car for the stop and go “around town” driving I do, we bought electric in 2018.

As a small thing, we use dishes instead of disposable plates. We make note to turn off the water when brushing teeth and have low flow toilets and shower heads. We use towels with silver threads that zap bacteria and reduce the overall number of times they need to be washed.  We have glass Tupperware for our leftovers.

We have sealed up our house and dryer vents. And we installed pavers and natural grasses in our backyard. We have no lawn to water in the backyard.

I grew up with woods in my backyard. We explored and observed nature every day. My husband and I are teaching my son about respecting our planet and what we all can do.

Jodi Trendler (City Council)

Mostly just try to do something new all the time – It is a journey, not a destination!  SOME of the primary things I do/have done:

Daily living (you can’t pour from an empty kettle!): 

Mindfulness

Healthy Eating

Connect with nature, friends and family

Buy local as possible

Buy in bulk in season and preserve food

Grow my own medicinal plants

Ask for local and/or organic options when out/shopping

Energy:

Led light bulb replacements

Home energy audit - Insulation upgrades; air sealing

Energy efficient windows

Energy Star/most efficient appliances as replacements needed (Tankless water heater, High eff. HVAC - Heat pumps weren’t really an option when we replaced ours 15 years ago)

I have an automated thermostat

I use smart strips to minimize phantom loads and turn off electronics

I hang dry my laundry

Waste:

I bring my own bags/bottles/containers

I try to purchase bulk items when available, and other products that minimize packaging

I try to avoid plastic as much as possible

I compost as much as I can in my yard and vermicomposter

Compulsively take recyclables out of landfill bins and put in recycling (everywhere)

Donate whenever possible

Frequently ask businesses if they recycle, have looked into alternatives to styrofoam, or accept packaging returns.

Transportation:

Currently drive a hybrid, and once I no longer need to tow a trailer will upgrade to a full EV

I try to use my E-bike for shorter trips when I don’t have to carry a lot of things (and is why I am advocating for SAFE BIKING).

I combine trips and minimize driving as much as possible.

Limit flying and offset emissions when flying

Natural Resources:

Yard is a forest garden

Compost leaves, yard waste, kitchen scraps

Use organic lawn care if needed - No chemicals - I LOVE dandelions (but do try to avoid letting them go to seed)!

Electric lawn equipment

I use my husband and kids for shoveling

Use free wood chips from tree service for mulch

Trade plants with friends

Personal Finances:

Ensure I have a solid safety net for emergencies and future retirement needs

Diversify income streams

Continuous learning/opportunity development

Shop used/resale/free/trade when possible (mostly for resource conservation)

Community/World:

Have spent 15 years trying to make it easier for our community to be healthier, safer, stronger, and more resilient through my non-profit and personal actions

Installed community gardens, including demonstration fruit tree guild in front of City Hall, at West Street Garden plots, Ferry Road, and McDonald Farm

Shop local; limit on-line purchasing (except Etsy addiction); buy locally made as possible.

Have always been involved with human rights, health and conservation organizations

Have always paid attention to/been involved with local issues/politics

Have an adopted/rescue cat

Josh McBroom (City Council)
Electric mower.  And I’m fortunate to work 2.5 miles from my home. Weather permitting I do bicycle to the office.  

Madhu Uppal (City Council)
The list is long, I limit my use of disposable plastic as much as possible. I use cloth bags for grocery shopping. I use no plastic grocery bags, and in many cases no bag at all when I have only a few items to pick up. I don’t use disposable water bottles. I try to combine several errands into one trip.  I recycle everything that I know is recyclable. The cleaning products I use often, though not always, have natural components. I have not purchased any Styrofoam product in years. I carry my coffee cup and water bottle with me wherever I go! I am an annoying environmentalist because my guests know that no matter how large the gathering, there will be no disposable dishes and glasses in my home. But I have not yet found a way to get rid of the plastic packaging that frozen and prepared food comes in!

Meghna Bansal (City Council)
I try to implement the 3 Rs, Reduce Reuse and Recycle, in my daily life as much as I can. For example, we use multiple different trash bins to differentiate the type of waste and make sure it gets disposed in the correct place. Almost every single light in our house is now LED powered and our outdoor lighting is powered by solar energy- we even have some lights that are motion censored. I personally drive an Electric Vehicle. All doors, windows, and attics are tightly sealed to avoid air leaks with new fiber glass insulation. As frequent users of the stovetop, we installed induction/electric cooktop to save on natural resources. We make sure to donate old clothing, shoes, and even cars. Amongst all of this, we are also a vegetarian family and do not consume any meat products.

I have made sure to instill all these actions into my children as they were growing up and educating them on the importance of keeping our environment safe. They now partake in these actions themselves in their own apartments at their colleges. 

Nag Jaiswal (City Council)
I own 2 electric and 1 PHEV Automobile.  My home will be fully solar powered by July, 2023 (Currently back ordered due to high demand), I recycle diligently and encourage everyone associated with me to follow a sustainable lifestyle if possible.

Patrick Kelly (City Council)
In the spirit of "the greenest energy is the energy not used," I make an effort to walk as much as possible and to drive as little as possible.  My wife and I chose a house near downtown Naperville so that we can walk downtown, to the train station, and to the grocery store, and so that I can walk to my office.  When I attended law school, I earned a certificate in Environmental and Energy Law, and focused much of my clinical time on working to hold polluters accountable for their actions. I spent my first few years as a practicing attorney focused on environmental and natural resource issues, and while I no longer practice in those areas in my day job, I have been fortunate to be able to put my background to use as a City Councilmember over the past four years by working to make Naperville a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city, including voting to add full time sustainability focused staff positions and approving NEST's Sustainable Naperville 2036 plan. If given the opportunity to represent our city for another four years, I will continue to dedicate my time and energy to pushing IMEA in a greener direction or exploring alternative options for power generation if necessary. 

Rebecca Malotke-Meslin (City Council)
Clothing waste is a huge issue.  "Fast Fashion" is a term for clothing that is made cheaply and sold inexpensively as nearly disposable.  The impact manufacturing plants have on the environment, in addition to the landfill waste these items are creating, is increasing every year.  I am a sewer and have made and mended my own clothes since I was a child. In my own home, I work hard to repair it before I replace items. When I have clothing to donate, I choose organizations that benefit charities or are committed to reselling to give clothes a longer life. I also purchase resale clothing from local and online resale shops frequently. 

Benny White (Mayor)
The obvious action I’ve taken is the EV in my garage. I'm a big fan of electric vehicles and I carefully follow new developments in car technology.

Scott Wehrli (Mayor)
I’ve taken several actions on both a personal and professional level to help create a more sustainable environment.

On a personal level, I own both an electric vehicle and a PHEV.  When I built my home in 2008 I used bleeding edge construction technology to reduce the use of water and electricity, while also maintaining tree preservation on the property. I proudly convinced the city that I did not need a traditional job site dumpster, because we were so efficient in the use of construction material, much of which I prefabricated in my company plant. I installed LED lighting and dual flush toilets at a time they were just being launched.  Most recently, I’ve installed heat pumps, an ultra high efficiency boiler (to drive my radiant heat) and a Rachio sprinkler controller (which paid for itself in water savings the first month!). 

On a professional level, my business is involved in the heavy construction and manufacturing industry. I believe it is good business to be a good steward of the environment, community and habitat.  We continue to build some of the most efficient buildings in the country and often receive accolades for our work. 

I’m very proud of our capital investments in solar, recycling and lean manufacturing methods that eliminate waste.  Moreover, our ability to craft a complete building structure in a controlled manufacturing facility eliminates excess material and landfill disposal that traditionally comes with on-site construction methods.

I am not a politician, I’m a doer. My track record demonstrates that I care about being a good steward of our natural resources and the environment. I’ll bring that perspective to the mayor’s office.