By Ashley South; Photos courtesy of Doug Krieger and the City of Naperville
Do you know who manages the day-to-day operations that support our 150,000 citizens and city staff of more than 900 employees of the City of Naperville?
His name is Doug Krieger, and we sat down to talk with him about the structure of our city’s governance, what his job entails, and learn more about him.
Doug describes himself as someone who cares about public service and enjoys solving problems, helping others, and making people laugh. He is someone who loves the community and is very proud of our great city. Born in Joliet, IL, he attended public grade school (and was deemed a chess prodigy at 6 years old and accepted to MENSA at 14), was accepted to and graduated from the Naval Academy (where ironically he learned to fly a plane), and served in the Navy (on a submarine) in Norfolk, VA. Eventually, he made his way back to Chicago to attend business school at University of Chicago and settled in Illinois.
In 1993, he and his wife had their first child and were looking for a great community with safe streets and great schools. Their research led them to Naperville where they decided to raise their family. At the time, Doug worked as a senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He commuted to Chicago for 11 years. Doug divided his workdays between the city and traveling for work. On the weekends, Doug spent time at various parks throughout the city and found himself wanting to spend more of his time involved in his home city of Naperville. In late 2002, Doug picked up a packet to run for a position on the Park District Board and noticed an opening posted for the Director of Finance for Naperville. He called and asked about it. The person in the position had been in the role for 12 years and vacated it in order to take the Naperville Assistant City Manager position. Worried that the role would not open back up for a while again, Doug decided to throw his hat in the ring and apply.
Doug was the Director of Finance from 2003 to 2008. During the first year, Doug experienced a huge culture shift coming out of a large consulting firm and going to the public sector. Peter Burchard, the former Director of Finance, was the city manager at the time. To Doug, the one thing that stood out about the culture in city administration was how much employees cared about the community and their desire to help. In 2008, the city manager submitted his resignation and Doug was chosen to serve as the new city manager by the Naperville City Council. Doug tells us that since he started working for the city, he has always had a fantastic team of motivated and dedicated staff.
We asked what might have changed or evolved in the last two decades of his experience with Naperville. “Communications,” he tells us. “Our citizens want more information and want it timelier. We have a communications team focused on getting information out to the public. The city has a website full of resources, including recorded past city council meetings, current meeting agendas, project information and timelines, and contact information for each department.”
Doug tells us there are usually two types of governance structures a municipality will have. One is “strong mayor” form, where the mayor is able to select and hire city staff. And one is a council/manager form, which Naperville adopted in 1969. In this (most popular) form, a city manager is confirmed by the city council to make the hiring decisions of city staff. This structure eliminates the conflict of interest between elected officials and the employees. By having a separate individual running operations of the city, this form limits the conflict of “I wrote you a campaign donation” and supports continuity even in election years.
If you consider the way public corporations typically operate, Doug is akin to the chief executive officer of the city. And the mayor is the chairman of the board. In our city, our governing board is the city council, which is led by the mayor.
The city council is comprised of one mayor and eight council members. Doug describes the relationship as dynamic. He speaks and works with the mayor daily. The rest of the council is different and depends on how involved they would like to be and how much information they need to do their job. He tells us “Some city council members have a standing meeting, and others have a more informal relationship where they call as needed.” One of Doug’s chief responsibilities is to write and distribute a weekly memo to city council about the week’s events and meetings, so each member on the council has what they need to do their job.
Day-to-Day Inside the City
Every day is wildly different for Doug: 20% of his week is spent on the phone with residents or business discussing concerns or offering advice. 20% of his week is spent in standing meetings with staff or on project team meetings like the Dark Fiber team, which is looking at the city’s fiber optic cable and positioning it for the growth. 20% is spent with the president of The Naperville Development Partnership (NDP), Christine Jeffries. Doug tells us that the city’s partnership with NDP has helped Naperville to grow strategically by looking for and vetting opportunities to bring to the city. 25% of his time is with the mayor and various city council members, and the other 15% of Doug’s time is spent on administrative duties like writing and reading reports or proposals. Doug loves problem solving. He tells us that it doesn’t have to be a big one but likes helping people – resident, employee, city council member – to make someone’s day a little bit better.
What does the future hold for our City Manager?
More problem solving and supporting the citizens and day-to-day operations of the city. He has no immediate retirement plans and tells us he wants to stay in the job until he no longer feels like he is making a difference.
Learn more about our city and all of its departments by visiting its website:
Any resident of Naperville can ask for and get a tour of City Hall by reaching out through the website or calling (630) 420-6111.
Additionally, anyone may sign up for “Naper Notify.” Naper Notify lets you sign up to receive emergency and community messages through a voice message, text message, or email.