William H. Wright: 2023 candidate for Streamwood park board


Town: Streamwood

Age on Election Day: 60

Occupation: Managing Director

Employer: The Overture Group, LLC

Previous offices held: Streamwood Park District Commissioner, 2007-present


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: During my first 12 years on the Board, we were highly leveraged in paying down the bonds for Park Place Recreational Center and Hoosier Grove Barn, both key facilities for us. The debt was paid off late in 2019 for both facilities, so we were excited to really work on other capital projects. COVID derailed our efforts for two years, however, I am very excited about our future as we develop our new Strategic and Master Plans. This is an exciting time for SPD, and I hope to have the opportunity to see these initiatives through.

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: It is a slow process, but numbers are improving. During COVID and the shutdown, we experienced a loss of over $1 million in gross revenues. COVID-19 saw the layoff of more than 100 full time and part time employees under the Governor's Executive order to shut down. Staffing is back up to 123 employees with more staff needed to meet expectations.

During the first year of the shutdown, SPD saw a large increase in park users as the parks provided an open expansive area to safely go to without being around everyone else. We are also investing in improvements and additional programming. A great example is moving indoor soccer to our Community Center on our new synthetic turf. We now have the highest participation ever. Other programs such as volleyball and swim lessons are also at our highest levels ever. New fitness equipment has been added to Park Place and visits have increased to more than 900 per week. This reflects things are returning to normal, but our goal is to be even better.

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: The district is on solid financial ground and the annual audits conducted by a CPA reflect ongoing improvement efforts for daily operations. Revenues and expenses are reviewed for efficiencies. COVID impacted the district, but we are recovering. Capital improvements are limited to grants and bonds, As Streamwood is more of a residential area and has fewer commercial and industrial areas, we don't have the local tax base like our neighboring communities. This means that we need to focus on working smarter, which includes looking at ways to reduce operating costs and applying for grant opportunities such as the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) and other grant opportunities. We have also put together strategic planning along with a Master Plan and are currently in the process of updating both of these so we can provide great facilities and stronger programs and services for Streamwood.

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: I believe in working in a collaborative setting with my fellow board members and staff. Data collected from surveys or discussions with residents provide excellent information from which we make decisions. Each of my teammates on the Board brings a unique perspective, so at times our views might be different. We discuss these issues with one another to form a consensus we all feel comfortable with.

These actions make everyone feel ownership in the process and it leads to good, sound decisions.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: Working with staff, I sought out and leveraged needed funding for facilities, parks, playgrounds and educational opportunities by building relationships with local businesses, state legislators and local officials. $400,000 OSLAD Commissioners Park Renovation, $270,00 DCEO Park Place Improvements, helped secure $13,000 in COVID 19 funding during pandemic. Currently awaiting potential grant awards for OSLAD Butterfly Park Renovation and DCEO Hoosier Grove Barn Tourism Grant.

I also helped establish a Summer Reading in the Park program, which provides free lunches and early childhood learning activities for area youth, supporting area students and families with Alignment Collaborative for Education. I helped create the partnership with Hanover Township and park district to provide soccer for low-income families. I will continue these efforts.

I was awarded the Illinois Association of Park District's "Mike Cassidy Commissioner Community Service Award" for 2022 at the state conference.

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