Stephen A. Zook: 2023 candidate for Lombard park board
Age on Election Day: 81
Employer: Lombard Golf Course, part-time
Previous offices held: None
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: As one that is an active user of park district programs and facilities, I want to ensure these excellent community resources continue to grow and improve for years to come. With recent funding via state grants for Southland Park improvements, the village acquisition of the Syd Harvey acreage for mixed recreational/flood control usage, and the potential acquisition of the Plum Library parcels the Park District has exciting opportunities to make many improvements for the greater benefit of the community. I want to be part of the discussion to make it happen!
I will strive to continue to grow the excellent programming and activities in place now while ensuring the best possible financial oversize to keep costs down for Lombard taxpayers.
Q: How well is your district rebounding from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic? What new measures should be taken to strengthen programming or better meet the needs of the community?
A: Improvements and enhancements in a post COVID-19 environment often mean expensive updates and upgrades while striving to maintain facilities and keep budgets in line. Transparency on costs and funding sources for these truly needed and "nice to have" enhancements (and maintenance) must continue as standard process.
The ongoing upgrades to Lombard Golf Course serve a dual purpose with stormwater management and affordable access to golf.
The coming upgrades to Southland Park will bring improved parking and access along with improved athletic fields for baseball/softball, soccer, and pickleball.
The Syd Harvey project with the village will likely bring opportunity for not only flood control but also athletic fields and open space.
Q: How would you describe the state of the district's finances? What challenges do you see on the horizon, and how do you propose to meet them?
A: There is an ongoing need for community access to gym space for basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and more. And that demand takes capital investment just as much as that demand far outpaces current supply day in and day out. The park district needs to develop a long-term strategic plan to bring new and/or expanded facilities to the community while keeping property tax rates in check. Currently the park district is in a strong financial position but with ever increasing wage costs (minimum wage increases) it puts a strain on keeping program and facility access costs at current rates.
Expansion of the MMAC to include expanded gym space/field house and often asked about indoor aquatics would be an expensive proposition that would need overwhelming community support via a bond issue referendum.
The board needs to openly explore new and expanded funding options and opportunities with full transparency to the community while keeping tax levies and current levels of service in check.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your park board.
A: Listening to the people and taking all sides into consideration when making decisions. Having been active with Lombard Baseball for decades I have participated in many board decisions relative to improvements to fields, lighting, and more. I strive to keep an open mind and ask for opinions. Having a board seat will give me the opportunity to make an impact for the betterment of Lombard's park district programs and facilities.
Having worked part time as a golf starter at Lombard Golf Course for nearly 20 years I have a good perspective on what the public wants and how the course works. While I will resign from this job if elected my significant experience will bring great insight to the park board as improvements and changes are discussed and implemented.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: My years of experience with the golf course as well as active involvement for well over 40 years with Lombard Baseball league bring understanding and knowledge of many facets of the park district. I look forward to sharing my insight to continue to make Lombard Park District a great asset for the community.