candidate for 2019 River Forest Park District Board
1. What motivates you to seek this office?
The River Forest Park District is facing some difficult space constraints that are likely to be addressed in the coming years. I would like to bring a budget conscience voice to the table that will advocate for the greater good of the community.
What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the Board of Trustees, and why would those contributions be valuable to the River Forest Park District?
As a resident of River Forest for the last six years, I know how important the Park District is to the community. My family has participated in Park District and Park District partnership activities such as baseball, basketball, soccer, platform tennis, Party in the Park, Deck the Depot, and more. Additionally, we have enjoyed using the playgrounds, winter ice skating at Constitution Park, and the sledding hill at Keystone Park. We are active participants in the River Forest Community Center, library, public schools, and St. Luke’s Parish. All are stakeholders in the Park District. I have an MBA and Masters in Computational Finance from DePaul University. I work in quantitative finance and am familiar with the cost/benefit of different financing options and fair financing rates. I believe my experiences and background provide a unique and necessary perspective for the Park District Board.
2. What steps will you take to improve and expand community engagement with the Park District and the Board?
It is my intention to expand profitable Park District programs, keep current programming and test new programming that will maximize resident participation. I believe electronic surveys should be utilized to gauge public support or opposition to major Park District initiatives. This will enable Park District Commissioners to weigh the opinions of a larger audience than a few individuals that speak at Board Meetings.
What is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents?
I feel elected officials should communicate via email and public comment at Board Meetings. Additionally, prior to large decisions being made by the board, surveys should be utilized to give Board members adequate feedback on the desires of the community. Given the opportunities and challenges facing the Park District, I would consider meeting more often than once a month. I will advocate for recording all Park District Board meetings and posting them to the Park District website to improve transparency and communication with the community.
3. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the concerns and needs of residents outside your demographic group (specifically the demographic groups of race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status)?
I will be participating in several “Coffee with the Candidate” meetings in February and March to gauge the needs and wants of the community regarding the Park District. Everyone is welcome to attend. Additionally, if anyone would like to email me directly, my email address is MarkYourBallotForBrown@gmail.com
4. What purpose does the Park District serve in the River Forest community?
I feel the Park District is an integral part of the social fabric of River Forest. Children create bonds and lifelong friendships through Park District and Park District partnership activities. Additionally, parents meet other parents through park district events that spark lifelong friendships amongst neighbors who may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet one another.
What is your vision for the River Forest Park District?
I would like to see a Park District that is the envy of surrounding communities with maximum involvement from children, adults and seniors. I would like to see programming that creates camaraderie between all members of the community, young and old.
5. What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Park District Board?
I would like to bring a budget conscience perspective to the Park District that recognizes the need for indoor space. I would like to be a voice for the greater good of the community.
6. What should be the role of the Park District in reducing and mitigating flooding, given the amount of green space under its jurisdiction?
When projects are considered, the Park District should consider the environmental impact of each project. If the Park District can reasonably reduce or mitigate flooding by their actions, such actions should be taken. This is not without limits as the Park District cannot be expected to solve area flooding on its own with limited resources.
7. What can or should the Park District do to provide more unstructured/unscheduled access to its facilities? For example, should the District make things like basketball hoops available for unscheduled use?
To the extent that facilities are not in use by scheduled programming, they should be available for unstructured access. I feel this applies to all Park District facilities that are funded by tax revenue. I feel the Park District should seek relationships with community partners to provide unstructured access.
8. What is your position on adding artificial turf at Keystone and Centennial parks?
To my understanding, this is an issue that will be determined by the current board. That being said, there are numerous factors that need to be considered: current drainage issues, current rainouts/rescheduling due to wet infields, the ability to add programming, cost, health concerns, environmental concerns, aesthetics, alternative options, etc.
9. What are the opportunities and limitations of the Park District coordinating with the River Forest Community Center?
I think there are significant opportunities that would be mutually beneficial for both the RFCC and the Park District. The Park District needs indoor space. I believe it is the Park District’s obligation to perform due diligence to see if their interests align with those of the RFCC. Ideally, the RFCC and Park District could work together to provide an indoor space that is mutually beneficial and maximizes the utility of indoor space for the River Forest taxpayers.
10. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.
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[The above answers were supplied on 2/10/19. It may be possible to find more current financial information at the Illinois Sunshine website. Illinois Sunshine is also a useful resource for identifying past contributions by individuals to political candidates and committees in Illinois.]
2019 River Forest Park District Candidate Forum Video (YouTube 3/21/19)
River Forest candidates face contested elections in April races (Forest Leaves 12/18/18)