Sometimes, it’s hairy to be a councilman
By TIM WEST firstname.lastname@example.org January 17, 2013 11:08PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:57PM
When I turned the television on to the Naperville City Council meeting Tuesday night, what to my wondering eyes should appear but three of our distinguished councilmen — Bob Fieseler, Joe McElroy and Grant Wehrli — sporting beards, which they did not have when the Council last met in December.
Now being of the clan of bearded males myownself, I found this interesting, even though I’ve had facial hair for many decades and the councilmen classify as very late bloomers, so to speak.
But when a full third of the nine-member Council contingent suddenly sprouts facial hair, it made me wonder what had led them to that decision.
So, I sent each the following email, seeking a response:
“What’s with the beard?
“When and why did you start it?
“Are you going to keep it?
“Or is it for some charity benefit?
“Inquiring minds want to know.”
The first to respond was Grant Wehrli, with two emails.
His first one read “I admire you so much I thought I would try to emulate you.
“That work in getting me positive press coverage?!!!”
His second one read “Now to be honest...
“I started it after Christmas for no particular reason.
“No plans as to if it stays or goes.
“If you know of anyone who would pay to shave it off for a charity I’m open!!”
To tell you the truth, I was a bit taken aback by the first email.
Anyone who tries to emulate me probably shouldn’t be sitting on the Council, and I respect Grant too much to wish him off it. As to press coverage, the answer would be no, but I might skewer him for exclamation point abuse.
The second email assured me he was just kidding about the emulation part.
The next response was from Bob Fieseler, who called instead of answering the email.
His story was at least a bit intriguing.
He said he was in Union Station before Christmas (Fieseler is a commuter) and he bought a hat with flaps on it from a vendor in the station. The flaps caused a rash (the moral being never buy a cap from a vendor in a train station) so he had to stop shaving. At that point he decided to just go ahead and grow the beard.
Now, he wants to keep it and see if he can get other councilmen to grow a beard for the St. Baldrick’s Day charity event, where participants shave their heads and beards to raise money.
He’s already talked to Councilman Paul Hinterlong who he said declined, responding that people don’t want to elect councilmen who look like bums. Hinterlong is running for re-election this spring so his caution may well be justified.
Hint to Fieseler: Call Grant Wehrli. He’s not up for election this time and has already expressed an interest, at least, in shaving the beard for charity.
Joe McElroy, the third newly bearded councilman, said that his youngest son had gotten a job at a video game company, and that most of his colleagues at the company had beards so his son grew one ,too.
This inspired Joe, who has had them in the past, to grow his first one in 13 years.
When asked if he would be willing to shave his beard and head for charity, he responded “We’ll see.”
He explained that he had shaved his head for charity two years ago, when he won the council election,
“I promised the West Suburban Irish (organization) that if I won the election I’d get my head shaved. I did so I did.”
But, he said, “My wife gave me a lot of grief about that bald look.”
In the matter of hair, wives truly have the only vote that matters.