Naperville officials laugh off most-snobby distinction

What do you mean Naperville's not friendly? Mayor A. George Pradel is Officer Friendly. He says he's too
What do you mean Naperville's not friendly? Mayor A. George Pradel is Officer Friendly. He says he's too "snobby" to comment on Movoto poll that says Naperville one of most snobby towns in the U.S. | File photo

While Naperville often appears on lists of best places in the country to live and raise a family, officials are tickled about one dubious distinction. The real estate blog Movoto named our fair city one of the 10 snobbiest mid-sized cities in America.

To be fair, the “snob” factor wasn’t based on people shutting doors in your face and walking around with their noses in the air. Movoto used criterion including median homes prices, income, percentage of people with a college degree, number of country clubs per capita and other amenities.

City officials are having a laugh over the Movoto poll and are “angry” Naperville only ranked fourth on the list.

“If those are the criteria for being ‘snobby’ I want to be No. 1,” said City Manager Doug Krieger. “When I first heard about the ranking, I was concerned, but then, when I read the criteria, my feelings turned to pride. The poll actually highlighted a lot of the great aspects of a great community.”

Mayor A. George Pradel said he wasn’t interested in talking to the press because he was too snobby to do so.

“Is that snobby enough for you?” Pradel said with a laugh. “I feel this is a compliment and calls attention again to Naperville in a good way. People can assume anything they want, but once they spend some time here and get inside the culture, they’ll realize it’s not true. We’ve all been talking about it at the office here and having fun with it.

“If we were really snobs, we shouldn’t be spending time together, but instead, we should all be out at the golf course.”

Pradel recalled taking a friend to lunch a few years ago who had labeled Naperville as snobbish and that he was surprised at the accommodating attitude of the city.

“We stopped at a restaurant downtown around 2 p.m. and they were closing, and we left to go somewhere else,” Pradel said. “The staff opened the door and said, ‘Come on in, we still have plenty of food for you,’ and they fed us lunch. My friend was so impressed — given I’m the mayor and that it had nothing to do with their taking care of us.”

Ray Kinney, president of Minuteman Press and an active community volunteer, said the Naperville community “has been ranked in all sorts of polls” and that the few data points used in the survey seem to suggest some skewed results.

“When you’re talking about higher median household incomes and more people with college educations, you’d think that would suggest a higher tolerance as a community,” Kinney said. “This seems like a way for some magazine or publication to get their 15 seconds of fame.

“When you look at all the volunteer work we do and the fact we’ve been ranked the No. 1 place to raise kids, as well as one of the highest ranked places for senior citizens and also for young people to live, those are the things that deserve attention.”

Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership, adopted the same posture as Pradel saying, “I am too busy right now to talk to you.”

“Actually I find this kind of comical, and it really hasn’t created much discussion here at the Visitor’s Bureau,” Jeffries said. “The news of this went right past them. To me, it’s kind of a compliment, and I think the study indicates things we should be proud of and don’t reflect poorly on the city.”

Nick Johnson, a spokesman for Movoto, said the group stands by the results of the poll and that the online real estate brokerage based in San Mateo, California, and its blog “try to create talking points for people and provide information about places they might want to move.”

“We get questions about our criteria and often are asked why we didn’t include this or that,” he said. “People by nature are defensive about where they live, but we think the results of the poll are pretty accurate. Generally, we feel we’re pretty close to being right.”

Anthony Losurdo, who has lived in Naperville for more than 20 years, said he moved his family here because of the schools and the community’s reputation and feels that the poll “probably just reflects some jealousy.”

“I love Naperville, and there are people I know who are still looking to move here,” he said. “I’ve made some great friends here and met some great people. Sure I’ve met some difficult people as well, but there are people like that everywhere. I moved here years ago because of what I’d heard about it.”

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