NAPERVILLE, Ill. —Social media criticism is influencing the race for Naperville mayor.
First term Mayor Steve Chirico is defending his position as a straight-forward businessman turned politician.
The controversy stems from a 17-unit condo development in downtown Naperville on Washington Street named Central Park Place.
The development will share the same property as the Old Nichols Library.
In 2017, Chirico was one of three votes against granting the library landmark status. The measure passed and the library is now a city landmark.
Last week, it was alleged online that Chirico’s longtime family business, Great Western Flooring, submitted a bid for the condo development.
Chirico said he’s a full-time mayor and has stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the flooring business, now run by his two oldest daughters, so he wasn’t aware of the bid.
After checking with his daughters, Chirico said the bid wasn’t for the entire project but for an individual owner of one of the units.
Chirico claims he’s set up a wall between the family business and his role as mayor and has made it clear to his daughters that Great Western not pursue business with any major developments that may cross his desk.
Chirico called the controversy contrived and a political stunt.
At a city council meeting Tuesday night, Chirico recused himself from the vote on the proposed condo project and left the room.
The rest of the council voted in favor of the project to go forward and for a clarification on what constitutes a conflict of interest for anyone serving on the council and as mayor.
In terms of the election, Chirico said he wants voters to focus on the fiscal stability achieved under his administration and has learned a lesson in how politics, even in a suburban city, can turn divisive online.
The challenger in the race is political newcomer and trucking company owner Rocky Caylor. Caylor said the city needs a better direction.
We’re a community of purpose," he said. "We’ve got to get back to that."