Tim Whelan: Candidate profile, DuPage County Forest Preserve Board District 4
Incumbent Republican Tim Whelan of Wheaton faces a challenge from Democrat Jeff Gahris of Wheaton for the District 4 seat on the DuPage County Forest Preserve District board of commissioners in the Nov. 3 general election.
Gahris is a retired environmental engineer with more than 30 years' extensive experience at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Ohio. He has served as a volunteer leader for the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, and volunteers with the nonprofits Elevate Energy and SCARCE.
Whelan, an attorney, has served on the board since 2012. He is a committeeman with the Milton Township Republicans. He is a member of the Wheaton Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, and the Boy Scouts of America as an Eagle Scout and parent.
District 4 takes in all or parts of Bloomingdale, Addison, Glendale Heights, Carol Stream, Winfield, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Downers Grove and Lisle.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates a series of questions. Here are their responses.
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 am running to continue to promote land preservation, clean water in our rivers and streams, and restoration of our green space for our health and enjoyment.
Sounds corny, but that is what I do as forest preserve commissioner.
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: Developing our strategic plan and now implementing it through our Master Plan Projects ... a $53 million effort.
For District 4 that means a strong commitment to Willowbrook Wildlife Center, restoration of Hidden Lakes King's Grove and the historic bridge, and Danada Rice Lake prairie restoration. All while continuing to acquire more green space when the opportunity arises!
Q: What role should the forest preserve play in preserving historic buildings on its land?
A: We have to maintain our history. Historic buildings are part of that past, which must be preserved.
Mayslake Peabody mansion and the McKee House are perfect examples of commitment to preserving our past.
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: I have been part of developing (more like restoring and maintaining) our forest preserves in DuPage. I rate the board's efforts high. Access to the wonders of nature in our green space is primary.
I will continue to promote that accessibility for our residents through the effort to make the East Branch DuPage River Trail a reality for District 4. It creates access to nature right in the middle of District 4 for bikers, hikers, dog walkers, and baby carriages.
Q: What is the most important issue facing the forest preserves in your district and how should it be addressed?
A: Willowbrook Wildlife Center commitment, the development of the East Branch DuPage River Trail and acquiring the 52 acres of Community Park from Carol Stream are my primary focuses.
Community Park needs to be brought into the Forest Preserve of DuPage to clean up, restore and maintain that land and waterway, Winfield Creek.
Carol Steam has offered the property to the Forest Preserve at no cost. Taking care of the diminishing green space in DuPage is what the Forest Preserve does. This property can be another jewel to our residents.