Mayor Chirico shares his views on the 2020 election and pandemic


Jason Verdin

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico kneeling in solidarity with a crowd of protestors at a Black Lives Matter rally that took place in the summer of 2020


Steve Chirico, the Mayor of Naperville discussed voting during COVID-19. Chirico said that he believes that 2020 is “going to have the highest voter turnout in the history of… this century, likely in the last 50 years.” According to Chirico, this projected turnout is a “reflection of some of the concerns that people have in our country, our city, and that points to “division that we have right now. When you have that much division, you have potential for conflict.” He went on to talk about his worries that conflict would turn violent after the election, in a scenario where either major candidate went on. He spoke about taking measures to ensure Naperville citizens’ safety and protect them, saying “that’s my job.”
In regards to students returning to in-person learning, Chirico believes that returning to in-person learning outweighs its alternative, which is students gathering in large groups outside of school. The mayor describes, “I can’t tell you how many times I have walked Downtown [Naperville] and seen 15 to 20 kids congregating [with] no masks.” Mayor Chirico has grown to believe that if students are provided with social interaction in the form of safe in-person learning, the number of unsafe interactions will be greatly reduced, resulting in fewer cases of COVID-19.
Chirico expressed his plans for the future after COVID-19 with, “I think the path to recovery has been identified… watch your distance, wash your hands, and wear a mask”. These guidelines have been laid out by the CDC, and Chirico believes that “as a society we can open up our economy as long as we follow those practices.” Speaking to young people, Chirico counseled, ”Do it for somebody you love; do it for somebody you care about.”
Later, he stated that he thinks City Hall is a great example of why reopening our city is plausible. In regards to his own workplace, Chirico stated, “Here at City Hall, we are essential… we found a way to make sure our employees were safe. We have 950 employees and up until a week ago we only had 6 cases.” Speaking about how City Hall’s results could translate across Naperville the mayor said that “people just need to understand that those precautions work.”
He then described City Hall’s efficiency and safety as a polling station, saying that “Downstairs [of city hall] is packed with people all of the time coming to fulfill their civic responsibilities, voting.” For concerns on safety during the pandemic, Chirico said that they implemented many precautions and that he doesn’t “have any concerns at all that there’s transmissions here from people voting.”
The mayor spoke highly of the expanded mail-in voting options, saying that “providing all these different forms of voting is a great thing for democracy.” He espoused the benefits of mail-in voting for people with disabilities, those with odd work schedules and anyone whose concerns about COVID-19 were keeping them from the polls. Chirico stated the allegations about voter mail fraud were false, saying that he had “never heard of one case of voter fraud in our county or our city.” He said that there’s a “great process” with “tons of security” to avoid any voter fraud. As a final statement, Chirico stated that allegations of widespread voter fraud is “more of just a political posturing than a reality.”

As mayor, Chirico serves in a nonpartisan capacity, and outside of his mayoral duties is a Republican. This year, Chirico broke with his party and endorsed Joe Biden. When asked why, he said about Trump, that he doesn’t believe he “has the temperament to be president and [he] think[s] that his character flaws outweigh his policy positions. For [him], it’s not just about the end results, but how you get there.”
In regards to the GOP’s future, he said they needed some “very mature reflection” and that “We can’t turn away from and ignore things we know or believe are wrong just because of which party the leader is with; I don’t think that’s right.”
Speaking on Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, Chirico said that “She looks like a very qualified woman.” He doesn’t “think anything was done wrong… [this was] the proper way of doing it.” Chirico spoke about how former President Barack Obama’s nomination of a justice “was treated differently for political reasons, likely” and admitted that the Senate’s treatment of that issue was “unfair” and “inconsistent” with Barrett’s confirmation. The issue 4 years ago was that the Senate, controlled by the same party as it is today, denied Obama’s nominee a confirmation hearing. He went on to say that while the issue four years ago shouldn’t have occurred, this confirmation was legitimate.
Chirico also touched on the Black Lives Matter movement, acknowledging the discrimination that people of color face, specifically at the hands of police officers. He explained, “That’s not right… we need to get that fixed,” saying he would act within local government to protect the rights of people of color. The mayor continued, “the way this issue has been manipulated and hijacked by people who want to do harm is disgusting” and that those who do hijack the movement are “taking advantage of… a true and honorable cause of trying to become a better society for your personal gain or for your organization’s personal belief” which he declares is “just disgusting.”

When asked how he thought the 2020 election year would be different, if it would be different, from other years, the mayor chuckled, “It’s going to be different in all sorts of ways.” From the upcoming election to COVID-19, Chirico shared how he plans to take on this year that will be different in all sorts of ways.