For months, Bensenville resident Cindee Hazen had been considering getting more involved in her community.
And when her brother, Craig Weldon, died late last year after battling cancer, she knew exactly where she felt called to serve. Weldon sat on the Bensenville Elementary District 2 board of education for 10 years and was known for being frugal with taxpayer dollars. So Hazen applied to fill his post and, in late January, was appointed for her first board meeting.
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"I thought 'Who else is going to do it?'" Hazen said. "It's something my brother cared a lot about and I wanted to continue on with it. Some people note that I don't have children of my own, but I live in the district and it affects you regardless of whether you have kids."
Two other candidates were considered for the post, which expires in April 2011. Board President Patty Reyes said Hazen was chosen because she brings a well-rounded perspective as a 16-year District 2 resident with a master's degree in business administration and a career as a claims specialist with Electro-Motive Diesel.
Hazen adds that she also has several nieces and a nephew who have attended Bensenville schools. Hazen's goal, she said, is to successfully carry on Weldon's work.
"I know a lot people respected my brother, and I hope I live up to their expectations," she said.
Weldon was 10 years her senior and always taught Hazen the value of a dollar, even as a child. He brought that ideal to the District 2 board, where colleagues said he always wanted to make sure the board was using taxpayer dollars wisely.
"If I ever went out and bought something that he thought was too much, he would ask 'Why didn't you get a better deal?'" said Hazen. "That was always something put into my head: it's fine to get something you want, but research it and get the best for it."
Hazen said it is too soon to know if she will run for election to keep her seat in 2011, but added that she "definitely wouldn't rule it out."