Candidate fields take shape in Downers Grove, Naperville, Wheaton
The municipal election season is heating up in DuPage County, with contested mayoral races already emerging in at least two towns.
The weeklong filing period -- when candidates turn in their nominating petitions to put their names on the spring ballot -- ended Monday in Aurora, Downers Grove, Naperville and Wheaton.
Filing in those suburbs starts earlier than in others to prepare for a possible February primary, depending on the number of candidates who run for municipal seats.
None of the races are set in stone because candidates can still try to knock their opponents off the ballot by filing objections to their nominating petitions through Dec. 5. Local elections are on April 4.
Mayor Phil Suess won't face any opposition next spring. Suess submitted his requisite paperwork Monday to run for a second term. He views the city's handling of the pandemic as one of his top achievements in office.
"We worked our way through the COVID situation, maintaining our staffing, maintaining our services, maintaining our capital projects. I think that's the most compelling accomplishment," Suess said.
Three council candidates -- incumbent Erica Bray-Parker and challengers Frank Hudetz and Brad Clousing -- are vying for two available at-large seats.
Suzanne Fitch, an attorney who is nearing the end of her second term in one of the council's at-large posts, had no plans to seek reelection. Fitch picked up nominating packets from the city clerk's office, but said she collected petition signatures for Clousing.
The city will hold a lottery at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 to determine who gets the first ballot slot. The lottery is needed because Bray-Parker and Hudetz turned in their nominating petitions "simultaneously" at the start of the official filing period a week ago, according to the city clerk.
Four council members represent the city's four voting districts, while two other members and the mayor are elected at-large. The city would have been required to conduct a primary had more than four mayoral hopefuls stepped forward or if more than eight candidates had filed for the two at-large council seats.
First-term Mayor Bob Barnett is set to square off against challenger Marshall Schmitt.
Three seats on the village council also are up for election in April. Commissioner Leslie Sadowski-Fugitt is hoping for a second term. The other council candidates are Michael J. Davenport, James P. "Jim" Devitt, Tammy A. Sarver, Denise McCann and former Mayor Martin T. Tully.
Barnett served as a village commissioner for a decade before becoming mayor in 2019. He replaced Tully, who stepped aside after eight years as mayor because the village has term limits.
"First and foremost, I feel like I have more to give to my community," Tully said.
He believes his institutional knowledge and prior experience, particularly with economic development, would prove useful to an otherwise "very young council." Tully, an attorney, also was a commissioner from 2001 to 2009.
The mayoral race expanded by one candidate since the initial filing day last week.
Councilman Benny White and Naperville Liquor Commissioner Scott Wehrli made their mayoral bids official on Nov. 21. Tiffany Stephens has since joined them in filing to run for the city's top elected post.
Stephens is the founder of Kids Teen Rider, a nonprofit organization that provides rides for children to and from school, work and elsewhere. She previously ran for a city council seat in 2011.
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico announced in July he wouldn't seek a third term.
Twelve candidates will be running for four available city council seats, but Patrick Kelly is the lone incumbent. Patty Gustin has been elected to the DuPage County Board, and term limits prevent Paul Hinterlong from running again. Earlier this month, Theresa Sullivan announced she wouldn't seek a second term.
Other city council candidates are Meghna Bansal, Nag Jaiswal, Allison Longenbaugh, Rebecca Malotke-Meslin, Josh McBroom, Derek McDaniel, Ashley South, Ashfaq Syed, Jodi Trendler, Madhu Uppal and Nate Wilson.
Alderman-at-large Sherman Jenkins filed for reelection. He will face John Laesch and Mansa Latham Williams.
Ward 1 Alderman Emmanuel S. Llamas is unopposed in his bid for reelection.
Olynda M. De Hoyos filed for the Ward 3 seat, as did incumbent Ted Mesiacos.
David Cannon is running against Ward 5 incumbent Carl Franco.
Ward 6 could end up having a primary, provided no one is removed from the ballot in a petition challenge. Incumbent Michael Saville is being challenged by Matthew Orr, Matt Harrington, Nicole Mullins and Benjamin Marcum. Petition challenges have to be filed by 5 p.m. Dec. 5.
Finally, in Ward 8, Alderman Patty Smith will be challenged by Gautam Bhatia.
• Daily Herald staff writer Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this report