I am running for Mayor of Naperville to ensure our city remains one of the safest cities to raise a family in, to embrace the diversity of our community, and to provide opportunities for all to thrive.
From the moment I set foot on the revered ground of West Point nearly 40 years ago, to the moments when I look in the eyes of my junior ROTC students today, I have ultimately had but one job: public service. It’s a commitment to protecting the ideals of the people I serve, fostering excellence in the people I lead and completing the mission no matter the obstacles.
The titles may change... lieutenant colonel, battalion commander, professor, school board member, fire and police commissioner, city councilman... but my commitment to serve a cause greater than any one person does not! This is no side gig for me nor a weekend hobby: it’s the central thread of my adult life.
As Naperville must elect a new mayor on April 4, we’re in need of a qualified replacement. Someone who is not just willing, but who has the experience to further Naperville’s deserved reputation for safety, desirability and community. I feel called to do what I have been trained for and have trained others to do—lead! It's a skill I learned and practiced through my studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point and subsequently during my 22 years spent on active duty of what is arguably the best and most extensive education on leadership in the world: the United States Military. And it’s a skill I refined by earning a doctorate in values-driven leadership from Benedictine University.
Combining that experience, my 17 years as a Naperville resident, and my growing years as a senior member of Naperville’s government, I’m not just well-prepared for the office, I am uniquely qualified for the mission: a high stakes decision-maker, manager and mentor with a background in the business of governing—where the bottom line is effectively serving the people we represent. It comes down to building trust. I’m ready to get to work and so I ask for your vote to be your next mayor.
READY and forward!
The Army holds dear the value of selfless service, where you put the needs of others before your own. We were constantly reminded that we succeed as a team, not as an individual. This is the essence of public service, fulfilling the needs of the team—the community. It’s a job that’s never complete, never gets easier, and is never the same from one day to the next.
Because of that, I’ve become well-versed in governing: responding to the needs of the community and using the resources of government to find solutions. Being mayor, particularly of a city with the scale and expectations of Naperville, requires someone who is no novice to the task. I’ve prepared for Naperville’s challenges and I’m committed to seeing the work get done.
Each of my credentials show that my career has been dedicated to service:
To our country... serving, managing, and leading as a career officer in the U.S. Army, which builds strong leaders to keep that organization operating and adapting effectively.
To our community... serving Naperville’s residents for over 10 years in elected office, in addition to being part of several boards and commissions. I’ve gained a deep understanding of how our local government operates through the relationships I’ve built among the staff, community business leaders, volunteer groups, and a concerned public. I led the effort to update the language of the city’s mission statement: "To provide services that ensure a high quality of life, sound fiscal management, and a dynamic business environment, while creating an inclusive community that values diversity."
And to our kids... serving on the D204 school board for five years, and, for the past 15 years, as a JROTC instructor and mentor.
Widening concerns about public safety across America reinforce how lucky we are to live in one of the safest communities in the country. Leveraging his years of experience as a Naperville city council member and a member on the board of the Naperville fire and police commissioners, Benny will employ a data-driven, community-oriented approach to help the city address health and safety issues at the root.
The past several years have shown us how important mental health is for all of our residents. It’s a topic that is top of mind for educators, health providers, and those who work in public safety. The city can work cooperatively with our local hospitals and social service agencies to bolster our mental health care.
Every year, the police department receives hundreds of mental health-related calls, and all of the NPD’s officers are trained in responding to them. A significant percentage of our police officers have undergone CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training, and all are trained in Mental Health Awareness.
Naperville is fortunate to have the very best public safety departments in the country. The Naperville Fire Department (NFD) has been rated number one in the nation, and the Naperville Police Department (NPD) is one of only a few in the country that has received the highest possible rating by The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).
The Naperville Police Department has embraced 21st Century Policing pillars by building trust and legitimacy with the community, reassessing their policies, and placing emphasis on training and education. Members of the NPD consistently and proactively reach out to the community. A number of years ago the NPD demonstrated its proactive stance by changing outdated policies, including eliminating choke holds, and have committed resources to de-escalation and implicit bias training. This was never more evident than in the summer during the George Floyd protests as our police and firefighters responded with the utmost professionalism.
As the son of a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer, Benny grew up understanding and respecting the value and importance of Public Safety. As a member of the Naperville City Council for the past six years and a former commissioner on the Board of Fire and Police, Benny is committed to providing continuous support to our public safety personnel so they can serve our community in the safest and best way possible.
As we resume our lives in a post-COVID world, we need to ensure the vitality of our vibrant business community as we continue rebuilding. In order to do that, we need to provide support and foster opportunities for new businesses and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.
Since 2017, Benny has represented the City Council on the Naperville Development Partnership, a public-private board that works to bring businesses big and small to Naperville, which brings together stakeholders from public (school districts and local government) and private entities (representatives from banking, development, hotel, real estate, and other businesses) to promote the economic health of the City. His perspective as someone who has both been on a School Board and the City Council will continue to be valuable to the NDP.
It’s time for Naperville to explore additional sustainable energy solutions and look for opportunities to offer renewable options to our residents, while using our standing with IMEA (Illinois Municipal Electric Agency) to leverage the replacement of coal dependency with cleaner energy options.
As the City approaches build-out, we need to carefully consider new development so that we think about our future as well as current needs. We need to work toward achieving workforce/ affordable/ attainable housing solutions for seniors and young families.
Good governance is a critical part of the compact the public makes with its government. To execute the power and authority given to government, we must earn and maintain the public’s trust from the top-down. It’s an obligation I feel every time I take my seat as a second-term city councilman because every one of my decisions impacts someone else’s life.
Government delivers services not for market share, competitive advantage or to maximize revenue but because they are essential to the mission of governing. The means to pursue that mission may be familiar to the private sector—a world I understand and respect from being the city council’s representative to the Naperville Development Partnership—but obligation is a different beast in that arena. When I was in the military, we had another word for obligation. One we don’t take lightly: duty. It’s a revered concept because it’s one of the Seven Core Values that the Army instills in everyone who wears the uniform: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
For 22 years, these core values were the underpinnings of every decision I made, every action I took and every command I gave. They informed me at every stage of my time in the public sector, and they will continue to do so if I have the privilege of serving as Naperville’s next mayor.
What defines good governance? You’ll find terms like participation, responsiveness, efficiency, transparency, ethics, competence and cost. These clearly synergize with the Army’s Seven Core Values, which is why many former military members find that staying in the public sector plays to their strengths. We’re built for the job—a job that prioritizes purpose.