Wheaton, Illinois | By Katherine Johnson - Flickr: Wheaton Train Station, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16164519
Public service is a calling that not everyone is suited for, but Wheaton city councilman Michael Barbier seems to have been destined to help shape the future of his beloved community.
“Simply put, I've seen the world, I love Wheaton, and I want Wheaton to have a bright future,” Barbier told DuPage Policy Journal. “I was born and raised in Wheaton. After undergraduate, I worked in Albuquerque, N.M., and then Indianapolis before returning to graduate school.”
For Barbier, it is important to note that he has seen more than the “Chicagoland Bubble” and has experienced a variety of cultures, lifestyles and governments.
Michael Barbier, Wheaton City Council | https://votebarbier.com/
“We rarely think about the choices our parents made for us growing up, but as I matured I started to understand what an incredible gift it was that my parents made the necessary sacrifices to raise me in Wheaton,” Barbier said.
From the people, the schools, the culture, sports and parks, Wheaton is an ideal place to raise a family, Barbier said, and the city has played a major role in shaping the person he is today.
“That is why I choose to settle back in Wheaton, so that my children can have the same opportunities that were afforded to me,” Barbier said. “My goals and aspirations for this position and this city are rooted in this mindset, ‘What does Wheaton need to do to ensure that my children will choose to raise a family here?’”
While the state of Illinois has made raising a family more difficult due to skyrocketing taxes and the rising cost of living, Barbier views these negative factors through the eyes of a true native.
“How can Wheaton remain attractive despite the state of Illinois?” Barbier said he asks himself often.
Barbier decided to run for city council because he does not believe that the current trajectory of the city is creating the investments needed to make Wheaton as desirable for the next generation as it can be.
“I didn't need my MBA from Chicago Booth to understand that each city needs a niche," he said. "I believe that our niche has been, and needs to continue to focus on being, The Best Place to Raise a Family. I have seen the city through child's eyes and recognize what made growing up here so special. I believe that my background in infrastructure can be leveraged to make sure the Wheaton magic remains for generations to come.”
For Barbier, part of retaining that 'magic' involves looking back to his own childhood in Wheaton to identify what remains possible for the future of a modern, growing community. He used as an example the memory of riding his bike all over Wheaton when it was smaller, quieter and safer to get around that way.
“Those same experiences I had are no longer available in many parts of the city [today],” Barbier said. “One of my priorities is to improve bicycle accommodations throughout the city.”
Maintaining his focus on the next generation and how to improve life in Wheaton is a responsibility that Barbier takes to heart, but he is willing to sacrifice as much time and energy as necessary.
“It would break my heart to hear my future children tell me, ‘Sorry, Pops, Wheaton is not where I want to raise your grandchildren,’" he said.