Three incumbents and two newcomers are running for four open commissioner seats on the Hoffman Estates Park District Board, and they all have varying ideas of how to improve what they believe is already a great park district.
Junaid Afeef is an attorney who uses the park district's facilities and programs to keep active with his wife and four children. He has never held an elected position, but has taken part in interfaith efforts, volunteered with veterans, served on the village's plan commission and coached youth sports.
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Afeef said in a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire that he believes his "legal experience in legislation, public policy, government budgeting and open government laws" would be beneficial to the park district.
He said he would like to see sporting events like archery offered, and he wants to continue expanding the base of residents who use the park district.
"Identifying unmet recreational needs is an ongoing process that will help us bring more people into the park district," he wrote. "I do not support rash financial expenditures, but when money is thoughtfully invested along side corporate sponsorships, and when possible, with intergovernmental cooperation that further reduces costs of the planned for program(s), I may be able to give such an investment my support."
Patrick McGinn, is a sales and distribution planning manager who raised three children with the help of park district facilities and programs. He worked as a coach for 15 years and said that now his youngest child is in college he has the time to dedicate to being a commissioner.
"I'm running to try to give back to the community in another capacity other than coaching," he wrote in a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire.
McGinn also has never held an elected position. Besides coaching soccer, basketball, and baseball teams through the park district for years, he also served as a volunteer community service representative from the Administrative and Finance Committee at the park district last year.
McGinn said in a statement on the Cook County Clerk's website that he believes his experience as an accountant and his work in the sports goods industry will be beneficial to the board. He, too, wants to encourage more people to participate in park district programming and make sure the programs offered fit the needs of the community.
Michael Bickham was appointed to the board in 2011. One of his top priorities is promoting transparency and he said in a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire that he would want to move forward with board evaluations, meet and greet sessions with commissioners, and making contact information accessible on the park district website.
Bickham said given the current state of unfunded liabilities impacting local governmental agencies, it is important for the park district to remain fiscally responsible.
"We should also seek additional revenue potential that benefits residents as a whole by helping to reduce the overall cost of services," he said.
Bickham said he would like to continue reviewing programs experiencing declining enrollment and consider expanding certain programs, like the 50+ club.
Ron Evans was also appointed to the board in 2011. He said he would like to focus on getting kids away from electronics and getting them more active.
"Our park district offers programs to do that. We need to get the message out, and I believe we do that already; I just want us to push harder," Evans wrote in a Daily Herald questionnaire.
Evans currently serves as a senior liaison to help the flow of ideas between the board and those working on the park district's senior programing. He said the need for senior programming is continuing to grow and he wants to see it have every opportunity to do so.
Joint efforts -- such as the opening of the Freedom Run Dog Park with help from Elgin and Streamwood -- is something Evans also wants to see continue.
Kaz Mohan has been a park district commissioner for 10 years, having served two years after an appointment, followed by two 4-year elected terms.
His top priority is keeping the taxpayers in mind by staying fiscally responsible.
"A portion of our revenue is from the participants; the balance is from the tax base," he wrote in a Daily Herald questionnaire. "The best we can do is maintain a reasonable balance, to keep programs affordable, and only levy the most minimal property taxes possible."
In a candidate statement on the Cook County Clerk's website, Mohan said he also wants the park district to keep its status as a "Gold Medalist Park District." He wants the parks and facilities stay competitive with surrounding districts, and would like to see the technical staff and instructors continue to be educated on safety, beautification and environmental programs.
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