Tim Elliott: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Forest Preserve Board District 4


Party: Republican

Office sought: DuPage Forest Preserve Commission

City: Glen Ellyn

Age: 51

Occupation: Attorney

Previous offices held: Glen Ellyn Village Trustee, DuPage County Board, DuPage Water Commission, DuPage Stormwater Commission


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?

A: I'm running for this office because I want future generations to be able to enjoy the open space and natural areas that make DuPage County special. Simply put, I want to ensure we are good stewards for future generations. In this time of high population density, changing climate, and increasing economic stress, preserving our natural resources is now more important than ever, and I'm concerned that the current leadership at the Forest Preserve is not up to that challenge.

In the past two years, they've focused on expensive large-scale building projects: concrete, bricks and mortar. They haven't focused on projects like the East Branch DuPage River Trail, planting more trees, acquiring and protecting more open space, and creating new recreational opportunities that are open and accessible. Those will be my priorities if I'm elected. I realize that some may be difficult to achieve, but all are important, and I have the experience, energy and drive to lead in each of those areas.

Q: If you are an incumbent, describe your two biggest contributions to the board. If you are a non-incumbent, describe two ways you would contribute to the board.

A: I'm not an incumbent on this Board, but I've spent 10 years representing District 4 on the Water Commission, Stormwater Commission and DuPage County Board. I understand our community's needs and will fight to ensure the Forest Preserve District addresses those needs.

If elected, I will re-examine the district's priorities. The current master plan lists 32 priorities. Many of those are bricks and mortar projects and some are little more than routine maintenance projects. That list does not include land acquisition, special needs recreation, the East Branch Trail, or a green energy plan. That's not acceptable.

I will also refocus the Forest Preserve District away from its current practice of incurring millions in bond debt to fund new construction. The $22 million Willowbrook expansion is profoundly expensive and will result in years of higher taxes. We must realize we cannot achieve our conservation goals if we do not practice fiscal sustainability.

Q: What role should the forest preserve play in preserving historic buildings on its land?

A: As the former President of the DuPage Historical Museum Foundation, I am a staunch advocate for historic preservation. The Forest Preserve District should be a leader in preserving historic buildings on its land. The district has an important role to play in preserving the county's cultural heritage, and providing valuable educational and cultural opportunities for our residents.

In some cases (e.g. Kline Creek) the district has done a good job. But in other cases, the district has dropped the ball.

It is puzzling that the Forest Preserve (which has told Glen Ellyn and Lombard residents for years that it lacks funds for basic upkeep on buildings such as the McKee House) has suddenly found $22 million - $22 million! - for an expansion at Willowbrook.

I am committed to seeing that the district sufficiently funds the upkeep of historical buildings, and will work collaboratively with residents, interest groups and other stakeholders to address issues of historical concern.

Q: How would you rate the job the commission is doing to develop existing forest preserves and make them accessible to residents? How would you approach things differently?

A: This is clearly not a priority for the Forest Preserve's current leadership. That needs to change. The current administration's master plan does not include accessibility among its 32 priorities. Instead, it refers to an ADA plan as a "consideration" that "may warrant further study and possible action." But it gets even worse.

In May 2022 - just three months ago - the Forest Preserve admitted it has not even started on an ADA plan. That's not acceptable. Making our preserves accessible to all residents is vitally important. It should not be an afterthought that comes behind things like asphalt maintenance and roof repair. Many of our residents are seniors or have conditions that make it challenging for them to visit the Forest Preserves. We must find ways for such residents to enjoy and utilize our Forest Preserves. Under the current leadership, that work has not even started. We owe it to our residents to do better. If elected, I will lead on this issue.

Q: What is the most important issue facing the forest preserves in your district and how should it be addressed?

A: There are many issues facing the Forest Preserve District. Two, in particular, stand out.

First, we are faced with a changing climate. That creates challenges for many of our natural resources, including increased flood potential in our region. We must monitor and protect our natural resources in the face of climate driven challenges. We must also look for opportunities to acquire new land, and work cooperatively with residents, interest groups, and other units of government to address regional environmental issues.

Second, the Forest Preserve District must be a wise steward of both natural and financial resources. The district has accumulated 26,000 acres of property over the last 100 years precisely because it has been good steward and has exercised fiscal prudence. We must not spend recklessly, incur debt lightly, or sacrifice long-term fiscal sustainability to achieve short-term gains.

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