Daniel Hebreard: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Forest Preserve Board President
Office sought: DuPage County Forest Preserve Board President
Occupation: President of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Previous offices held: Forest Preserve District of DuPage County since 2018
Q: Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: As the current president, I want to ensure that our responsible stewardship of the taxpayers' monies and careful guardianship of our natural resources continues for another four years.
During my term, we have eliminated political positions, such as the presidential assistant, and we have eliminated pensions for part-time politicians on the board.
These changes, under my direction, have resulted in savings to the taxpayers of hundred of thousand of dollars.
Additionally, in 2019, we passed a bipartisan master plan for the Forest Preserve that approved and outlined 32 specific projects to be completed at our Preserves.
Our 2022 budget has allocated funding for these projects and we have initiated the work that we will supervise in the coming years.
The completion of the projects in the master plan is a very important goal for me, and our board, to further our commitment to fiscal responsibility, safety, and sustainability.
Q: If you are an incumbent, describe two important initiatives you've led. If you're not an incumbent, describe two ways you would contribute to the forest preserve district.
A: Under my initiative, we started solar projects in 2019 and we have since completed three major projects. We completed the first Forest Preserve District solar project by installing 100% solar-powered golf carts at the Preserve at Oak Meadows.
Additionally, we completed a solar array at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center that included a $25,000 private donation in 2020.
For our third project, we have approved and funded the Blackwell solar array at our fleet building that will power all operations and vehicle charging stations which included a $100,000 private donation.
In addition to solar projects, another initiative I have led is the redesign at the Willowbrook Rehabilitation Center and Wildlife Hospital.
The Willowbrook project, along with an expansion of the solar array, will also feature a Net-Zero energy efficient design that both heats and cools the facility using geothermal technology. Our team will make sure its completion is on time, and on budget.
Q: How would you rate the job the forest preserve district is doing to develop its preserves and make them accessible to residents? How would you approach things differently?
A: I am very pleased with the job we have performed to develop the Forest Preserve District by ensuring our long-term fiscal health when we passed a bipartisan bond issuance for $40 million at a 1.3% interest rate which, importantly, did not result in raising taxes for DuPage residents.
Additionally, through our efforts to coordinate with state and federal agencies, we have brought millions of dollars of funding to the Forest Preserve District for various improvement projects.
Additionally, we are continually improving access to our trails and connecting more regional trails to neighborhoods. Further, we are planning trail connections at each Preserve and have an accessibility study as part of our master plan.
We have taken a different approach than the previous administration by moving more quickly on projects in order to be more responsive to our residents of DuPage County.
Q: What is the most important issue facing the forest preserve district as a whole and how should it be addressed?
A: Visitor experience is the most important issue facing the Forest Preserve. Over the last several years we have seen a notable increase in visitors' usage at the Forest Preserves and we made access to the Preserves a top priority. We have worked diligently to make sure that our Preserves are safe and clean, our trails are in excellent shape, and our facilities are well maintained.
Further, we took great pride in ensuring that we stayed open for our residents during the COVID pandemic to allow them access to the open spaces of the Forest Preserve and the health and well-being benefits that the Preserves provided.
Open police positions that were allowed to go unfilled by the previous administration were filled during my term as president.
Additionally, a study was recently completed that shows that the Forest Preserve District of DuPage has the safest Preserves in all of Chicagoland. Under my leadership, this level of safety and high quality visitor experience will remain a priority.