With 140 parks and facilities to keep track of, sitting on the Naperville Park District Board is no easy task.
“The business of the Park District as a government is probably like other forms of government – it levees taxes, it assess fees for various things, and it provides service to the public,” said Roy Ory, a Park Board Commissioner. “But it’s unlike other forms of government in that it provides needs. And the community drives the need.”
Knowing the community is the most important quality in a candidate, others include being in touch with the residents, and effectively communicating the citizens’ needs to local government.
“A couple of things that the commissioners do, one of the most important things is hiring an executive director, he’s the sole employee of the park board and the park board provides him direction and policy and that type of thing. And the other very important thing that the park board, which I’m a member, does is levy taxes, and that’s an awesome responsibility,” said Ory.
There are seven commissioners to the board who serve four-year terms and everything they do is volunteer work. They do not get paid.
“Something that the Park Board Members are really charged with doing, is that they’re not just in an administrator role but they’re a watch dog role,” said Political Scientist, Suzan Chod. “They look at how effectively are the services are being run, so they’re not only administrating them but then watching and making sure they’re being administrated correctly. So that watch dog role is also very important to make sure that things are being ran efficiently and money is being spent appropriately and responsibly.”
And it’s a sizable sum, the total proposed budget for the Park Board in 2015 is $55.9 million, which includes $24.8 for operations and $20.7 million for capital projects. With three slots up for grabs and only two incumbents on the ballot, the board is guaranteed at least one new member to help guide future projects and expenditures.
“If there’s going to be a turnover on the park board one of the things voters should be looking for is there a vision, do those Park Board members have a vision for what we can see down the line for the parks and rec department. Not just what are the needs right now, but what can we change for all of this down the road to make it better for the community and then serve those wants of the community, not just the needs,” said Chod.
The four candidates running for this year’s board are incumbents Rich Janor and Marie Todd and challengers Jim Ensign and Melvin Kim.
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