Denise K. Wilson: 2021 candidate for Hoffman Estates park board
City: Hoffman Estates
Age: Candidate did not respond
Occupation: Telecommunications professional and Artist
Civic involvement: Actively committed to the community, volunteering for the last 20 years with the Village of Hoffman Estates, starting as a commissioner on the Zoning Board and currently as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Currently, Community Representative on the Administration and Finance Committee for the Hoffman Estates Park District; Vice President on the Lutheran Day Early Childhood Center board in Chicago. For many years, supported the Midwest Center Against Sexual Assault as an Illinois Rape Victim Advocate.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. My decision to become a candidate started after becoming a Community Representative on Administration and Finance Committee Hoffman Estates Park District over 2 years. Since committees are recommending bodies to the board, I would like the opportunity to leverage my professional expertise and include more community opinions in Hoffman Estates Park District decisions by becoming a board member. People need to have options to make change, to not just go with more of the same. I will work to provide better programs, cut wasteful spending and work to support strong Community involvement.
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. The Hoffman Estates Park District did create and adapt virtual class offerings during the pandemic but they did very little for outdoor activities. They created supervised remote learning rooms. Where children could meet and interact with peers but did not offer other opportunities for families. Last summer many other IL park districts opened their outdoor pools and splash pads successfully by offering reserved time slots, this park district did not.
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. This question has a very large scope and I believe that there are many areas for improved handling of any future health crises. My view is improved communications and better understanding the isolation and the loneness closing all services had on everyone, as we are and were all in this but we were not all together. Every person has their own story, but the most affected were the seniors and the children. We need to provide better mental health support to reduce suicides and abuse that accrued due to isolation. And we need to remove the politics from any health crises.
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. All of this country was affected by the pandemic but it was handled very differently with in this state and by other states. One needs to look at how things were managed before last year, was there strong inclusive leadership on the board? Did they have in place management that would listen to input from all their employees as well as the community that supports the park district though tax dollars? If elected I will work to cut wasteful spending and improve communications between the Community, Park District staff and the board.
Q. How has the pandemic affected the park district's revenue? How has that been addressed on the expense side?
A. Of course stopping almost all services negativity affected the Park District's revenue. It was addressed through keeping the golf course open and the creativity of the staff setting up virtual classes and e learning classrooms. Expense reductions were related to having many buildings and pools without services/customers. A big reduction in expense was staff layoff/terminations. Was this the best way when other business and government entities were keeping their employees? Many full time and part time employees were laid off and lost benefits for themselves and their families. I do understand that they were able to collect unemployment and extensions but the lost benefits would be most hurtful, especially for those that may be affected by lost pensions. Now that the park district is opening, have those people been offered to return to those positions?