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Division over Naperville mayoral appointments leads to call for updating city’s code of conduct – Chicago Tribune

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico is asking the city manager to work with him on crafting a code of conduct based on best practices from other cities that would govern behavior of members of city boards and commissions.

Chirico said the city uses the state’s code of conduct, which is outdated because of the issues municipalities are dealing with today related to social media and other behaviors he’s witnessed.

“We all know in the last couple of years our country’s become more divided,” he said, which was evidenced by divisive comments from both sides over his possible nomination of Kevin Coyne to the library board and Shannon Adcock to the newly named Special Events and Community Arts Commission.

Coyne, a former councilman, was approved by the council in an 8-1 vote Tuesday along with other mayoral appointments.

Adcock, founder of Awake Illinois, was not on the final list. Awake Illinois is a far-right organization that promotes mask freedom and questions school programming on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Members of the community said this week and at the previous council meeting that Adcock and Coyne, through his association with Adcock, were not fit to serve on any city board or commission.

Chirico said Adcock’s name was not submitted because “publicly there wasn’t support.”

During the interview, Chirico said Adcock was professional, prepared, polite, qualified and willing to serve. “And that’s what I look for,” he said.

Chirico added that when he read items posted on social media, it did give him a pause.

“But I do know Kevin Coyne and I’ve worked with him for the past six years on council. He served honorably on several boards and commissions,” Chirico said.

He said statements about Coyne were “disturbing to me, because this is not the person that I know.”

The mayor said while the council wants to do everything to push for diversity, equity and inclusion, the city has a broader mission to offer services that ensure a high quality of life, provide sound fiscal management, and promote a dynamic business environment.

“I can tell you right now that there are a lot of people on boards and commissions that really don’t have any interest in (diversity, equity and inclusion),” Chirico said.

He said they might be a traffic engineer on the Transportation Advisory Board, a banker or financial analyst on the Financial Advisory Board, or an architect on the Building Review Board.

These people might not have any other interests outside those terms, but they still make a positive contribution, he said. “That’s what we want. We want people who are going to make positive contributions to our community,” Chirico said.

Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan, who was the lone dissenter, said she would have preferred a cooling-off period before voting.

What is usually a very efficient process “turned into a circus,” she said.

The good that came out of it, Sullivan said, was the suggestion by the public to set ground rules for behavioral norms from the board and commission volunteers.

“Until these last few weeks, it’s not been a conversation we’ve ever had up here before. But maybe that’s where we are now and that’s what we need to do,” she said.

Councilman Benny White said the community seems to be more divided by the day over political differences despite the good work the city, staff and the diversity, equity and inclusion manager have done.

“I support diverse opinions in an organization because it provides a richer discussion and better decision making,” White said. “But it is essential that all members in the group believe in the goals, objectives and mission of the organization. Without this, we’re just inviting chaos and division.”

Councilman Paul Leong disagreed that the process was a circus but merely part of how the system should work. “Votes are cast. We live with the consequences.” he said.

What concerns him, Leong said, is how it will affect future volunteers.

“I think everyone should be free to express themselves, and I don’t want any of these rules to inhibit an individual’s freedom of speech,” he said. “Just like we let everyone here speak in the public forum and we listened, I think everyone should have that right whether I agree with it or not.”

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