Alison Thompson: 2021 candidate for Naperville Park District board
Alison Thompson is one of eight candidates running for four seats on the Naperville Park District board in the April 6, 2021, election.
Occupation: Photographer at Bella Baby Photography/self employed
Civic involvement: Chairperson at Home and School
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A: As a child growing up in Naperville, and now a mother of young children, I have relied on the park district facilities and programs to be both relevant and affordable. When I lost my management job due to cutbacks from Covid-19, I was looking for a place to make a difference on the local level. The park district board seemed like a perfect place to start, as women's voices are severely underrepresented there.
Q: Did your park district continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: I do not believe our park district adequately served its constituents during the pandemic. I believe taxpayer funds were unnecessarily and recklessly spent in a political grandstanding lawsuit to reopen the facilities, which went through a mere DAY before the governor deemed it safe to reopen indoor facilities. I think the nearly $25,000 could have been spent in creating and maintaining virtual programming that would have reached more people in a time when people are isolated and needing community outreach.
Q: In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
A: I think making sure we have protocol and plans for teaching classes remotely, and the proper signage and reminders in parks and park district buildings when an outbreak occurs can really help in managing these on a local level.
Q: How has the pandemic affected the park district's offerings and use of facilities. Are there other ways the park board can fulfill the mission of a park district during these times?
A: We need both reduced capacity in person offerings (when experts tell us it is safe to do so), and remote options for those that are high risk. Offering both makes us strong as a community, and takes everyone's needs into account.
Q: How has the pandemic affected the park district's revenue? How has that been addressed on the expense side?
A: I believe the park district board wanted to reopen immediately so as not to lose money or members at their facilities. It makes sense on paper, but in practice, many people are cautious and wary of venturing out during a pandemic. Loss would have happened early on, and the only way to make people feel safe and secure during the pandemic is to offer multiple options for classes and community. This would have helped both the community outreach and revenue.