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Naperville Park District Park Commissioner {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Vote for not more than 4A total of four (4) positions are up for election on the seven-member Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners. Newly elected commissioners serve four-year terms. Naperville Park District Commissioners are volunteers and receive no salary. To run for a seat on the board you must be at least 18 years of age and a Naperville Park District resident for at least one year prior to the election.Created in 1966, the Naperville Park District is an independent, municipal agency serving the recreation needs of its residents. The Naperville Park District’s mission is to provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community. The District maintains and operates more than 2,400 acres with 137 parks and provides more than 1,500 recreational, arts and environmental programs and special events annually. Included within the District’s operations are two championship golf courses, a multitude of playgrounds, trails, athletic courts and sports fields, Fort Hill Activity Center, Knoch Knolls Nature Center, two inline skating and skateboarding facilities, the Millennium Carillon, a paddle boat quarry, historic Centennial Beach, and the Riverwalk.More information: Naperville Park District website

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    Leslie Ruffing

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    Nag Jaiswal

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    Mary Gibson

  • Lee Kaseska

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    Rhonda Ansier

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    Alison Thompson

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    Nathan Wilson

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    Mike King

Biographical Information

Please describe the educational background, work experience, and other skills which uniquely qualify you for this position.

What do you consider to be the most important issues facing the Naperville Park District right now and how would you propose to address them?

What concerns do you have as we transition to in-person activities and events in the community after the pandemic, and how would you address them? What elements or strategies in place during the pandemic should be retained, if any?

What gaps do you see in current Park District offerings, if any, and how would you propose resolving them? How would your proposals be funded?

Did you support the lawsuit that was filed May 19, 2020 by the Naperville Park District to override the governor on the park district reopening decision? Please explain why or why not. If you were on the board at the time of that vote, did you vote for or against the lawsuit?

I have spent the last fifteen years as a Structured Settlement Annuity Broker which has afforded me extensive experience advising clients on spending and budgeting. I am well versed in complex financial transactions as I typically deal with millions of settlement dollars each year. I easily understand cash flows and budgets and intend to use these skills if elected as Commissioner. In addition to my professional experience, I have also been an active member of the community in a variety of ways. I am a frequent volunteer at my Daughter’s elementary school, along with holding several committee chairperson roles in the school PTA, and I am the co-leader of my eldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop. During the summers, I’ve served as a committee chairperson for the Ashbury Alligators swim team. My community activism focus for the past several years has been on gun violence prevention and gun safety advocacy. My passion for serving my community has led me to this opportunity of running for Naperville Park District Commissioner.
I made the decision to run for this office for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was the need for a more diverse Park District Board. I believe that the voices of parents with young children, especially Mothers, have been absent from the Board for too long. I intend to advocate for all resident’s Park District needs. I also believe transparency and integrity to be vital to a governmental body. By diversifying the Board, we have a real opportunity to act as a voice for all residents. I believe that better Board representation will result in a Park District that appeals to every age, gender, culture and interest. Diversifying and refreshing the Park District offerings would be a great way to reinvigorate residents in a post-COVID-19 environment. Coupled with affordable options, this is an opportunity to draw new participation and engagement. Acting as a community partner with other Naperville entities to move forward in a way that protects and benefits residents and businesses alike will be vital for the Park District. If it is safe to do so, I believe the Park District should make it a priority to open facilities to the general public this summer, such as Centennial Beach, which will certainly benefit the community. I am certain that a contribution to even a semblance of normalcy would be so appreciated by the residents and guests of Naperville.
Transitioning to more in-person activities this spring and summer will be an exciting time for many residents. After spending the winter indoors, members of the community are going to be anxious for opportunities to engage with their neighbors and friends. Doing so in ways that are safe and continue to follow the safety guidelines would be of the utmost importance to me, if elected. As long as it follows the safety guidelines at the time, I believe that opening Centennial Beach this season should be a top goal. This landmark has long been considered one of the jewels of a Naperville summer, and it is my hope that residents will be able to enjoy it this year. Last summer’s ‘lawn sprays’ at Rotary Hill are also a great example of a free and socially responsible event which children and families enjoyed and would be wonderful to continue. It will also be important to ensure equal access to activities for all residents, including those who may not be comfortable or able to participate in activities outside their homes. I believe it would be wise to continue to offer virtual classes as long as COVID-19 remains a prevalence in our community, along with making the Board meetings accessible to residents in real time. Hopefully once fall arrives the Park District will be able to transition to additional indoor programming and offer the exciting Holiday events that so many missed last year.
The Naperville Park District is known for the abundance of classes and events to choose from each time their latest Program Guide is released. But I do believe that by diversifying the program offerings to be more inclusive, we could better serve the community as a whole. Offering dance classes that appeal to different types of dance styles and to all genders would be one example. Appealing to a variety of cultures and offering new arts programs is another. Virtual offerings will also be of importance to ensure that everyone has equal access to programs. While many may be anxious for in person activities to resume, we must also consider those who wish to remain virtual due to limitations or challenges they may continue to face in a post-pandemic environment. The Park District functions best when all residents are considered when putting together the program offerings each quarter.
News of the lawsuit filed last May by the Naperville Park District was met with very strong opinions from area residents. I was personally very disappointed to see tax dollars being spent in such a partisan manner. While the spring of 2020 was certainly a difficult time for so many, it is important to remember that the reason for that was not due to our Governor’s actions in an effort to keep the residents of Illinois safe. But rather, because of the out of control pandemic that was still very new to scientists and all decision-makers at that point and therefore was difficult to predict how summer activities would be affected. Youth sports guidelines were continuously updated throughout spring and summer in an effort to protect the lives of children and their families, which should always be the biggest consideration for a Park District. The loss of sports and summer activities was challenging to say the least. I completely understand how badly people wanted sports back, and thankfully many sports were able to return to safe play last summer. The lawsuit was a waste of time and resources when the Board should have been focused on the safety of the residents of Naperville, and how best to serve them through such unprecedented times.
Campaign Address 4316 Winterberry Ave
Campaign Phone (630) 621-5445
Campaign Website http://Jaiswal.Vote
As a Technologist and Entrepreneur I've been serving variety of global businesses, small & large, in different capacities past 27 years. I work for in a customer advisory position.

I raise awareness, funding and volunteer for several social causes that include No Kid Hungry, Akshaya Patra Foundation, Equal Justice Initiative, Save-A-Mother Foundation, and Hesed House.

I am a proud alumni of Northern Illinois University and Western Michigan University. My cultural background and journey as a first-generation immigrant from India provides an insightful perspective as a foreign-born naturalized citizen
I am running to join the Naperville Park District Board to offer representation that is reflective of the Naperville community I love. As a candidate for Naperville Park District Commissioner my priorities are: - Park Security - Fiscal Responsibility - Program Quality & Quantity - Sustainable Development

As an active community liaison, advocate, and conduit, my track record, skills, and expertise engaging children, teens, adults and elders will positively contribute to the improvement and satisfaction of recreation and park services.
It was a learning experience going through pandemic. A positive outcome has been the way remote learning has been adopted across the society. This is once in a generation change that has changed way we learn and interact. It opens up broader access to quality programming being offered remotely followed up with in-class activities as needed. There are cost advantages for all constituents in general if strategic planning is done the right way.
- Access to programs for deserving under-privileged such as Golf, Tennis - Badminton and Cricket - Cultural Programs showcasing different countries and cultures
Rather than a lawsuit, NAPD should have negotiated an agreeable outcome. Lawsuit should have been the last step if negotiations had failed. I would have voted against if the board had decided to file a lawsuit without any negotiations or cost assessment of the lawsuit.
I am a former director at a data analytics firm where I advised Fortune 500 companies, government entities, and non-profits on public sentiment, unforeseen risks and strategic opportunities. I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from the University of Dayton and a master’s degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago. I grew up in Lisle, and while my husband and I moved around for school and work, once we had kids we knew that Naperville was where we wanted to raise our family. We moved back to Naperville 6 years ago.

I really believe in the importance of getting involved with one’s community. I am a trained member of Naperville’s Community Emergency Response Team and I am enrolled in the Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy. For the past two years I’ve facilitated the Open Discussion Project at Anderson’s Bookshop, which is a book group designed to foster civil discourse among people with differing political views.

After being a working parent for a while, I made the decision to pause my career to stay home with my growing family. The Park District became a lifeline for us.

Between my three young children, I have sent my kids to four years of Park District preschool, have gone to hundreds of park district soccer and T-ball games, and have participated in more Park District mommy-and-me ballet, gym cats, and music classes than I can count. If elected, I will bring the perspective and insights of a parent actively participating in the wide range programs and activities our Park District offers. As a Commissioner, I will prioritize quality and affordable programing, commit to making Naperville Park District a leader in environmental stewardship and sustainability, and will be fiscally responsible – ensuring that Park District funds and resources are spent directly fulfilling its mission of helping the people of Naperville lead healthy lives. I will also ensure that Park District board meetings are open and accessible to the public.
I think Covid-19 will be the most important issue facing the Naperville Park District for some time to come. The Park District must navigate both the public health implications of the pandemic and the consequences for the Park District’s budget. If elected, I will rely on the advice and judgement of experts and community feedback to address decisions that come before the Board.
I think the risk of COVID-19 transmission will be with us as a community for a while. The Park District will need to balance the recommendations of health professionals, government regulations, and the needs of the community. Public safety needs to be a priority. I think the commitment to cleanliness in our facilities should continue to be a priority moving forward, as well as the focus on handwashing for early childhood education programs.

I would like to see many of our virtual offerings continue beyond the pandemic. Virtual offerings have made the Park District more accessible to people in our community who may not have been able to participate in-person for a variety of reasons.
I would like to see more culturally diverse offerings, more neurodiverse offerings, and more offerings for older kids and teenagers. These are all things people in Naperville have directly asked for when I speak with them about our Park District. I would also like to take a look at the Park District summer camp options - in the past, the summer camp options have been offered at times that are difficult for many working parents to accommodate.
I did not support the lawsuit to sue the Governor. I think it is important to listen to subject matter experts when making decisions. At the time of the lawsuit we were in the early phases of a global pandemic and the Governor’s orders were based on the recommendations of top public health officials, scientists and medical doctors. I think the nearly $25,000 that was spent suing the Governor could have been put to better use directly helping the community.
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I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, an Associates of Applied Arts in Graphic Design from the Illinois Institute of Art, and a Masters of Science in Nursing degree from Lewis University. I have worked as a registered nurse in a variety of roles with ages ranging from birth to 100+ years for nearly 20 years. I currently work as a Nurse Practitioner in obstetrics and gynecology. I worked as a branding designer where I did corporate design work for clients tailored specifically to their needs. My work as a nurse has given me a tremendous ability to listen to people and partner with them in meeting their health goals. My art background put me in front of clients where I had to listen to them to give them what they wanted, and it assists with creative conceptualizing and thinking outside of the box to solve problems. I can bring all of these tools to the position of Park District Commissioner, which will require interpersonal skills, the ability to listen to the community, and to come up with varied ways to meet their needs.
Right now the Park District needs to make sure access remains as open and affordable as possibly during this pandemic. More and varied virtual programs should be available and pricing should be low enough or financial assistance given to make sure all can participate. Outdoor activities should be abundant, and indoor activities should maintain appropriate safety measures.
I think the safety measures for in-person activities should remain consistent until the numbers of infections in the community drops significantly. Facilities are open and maintaining distancing, but masks are no longer being required during indoor exercise. I think mask mandates should remain even as we transition through the lower phases so as not to contribute to inadvertent spread, requiring higher mitigation and thus restricting us further. Maintaining a more conservative health mandate can help us get back to full open use more efficiently.
Currently there are not a lot of diverse options for park district classes. For example, we could have a wider variety of dance classes for both adults and kids. We could expand to include cultural-based styles of dance, music, or cooking classes that better reflects the growing diversity of Naperville. It would provide a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together and learn about our variety of cultures represented, and would also allow more local businesses, artists, and artisans to be supported and represented through these offerings. The funding would need to be reviewed as to where we can draw funds from, what sponsorships we could get for programs, as well as considering discontinuing programming that isn’t well utilized.
I was absolutely not in favor of the lawsuit filed. It was a rash decision that cost us 25k in taxpayer dollars only for the governor to go ahead and move forward to open up parks. The plan in place by the state had absolutely nothing to do with this lawsuit despite what those in favor of it may think. Many in the community were not in favor of it and were embarrassed by it. The commissioners voted 4-3 to do it anyway. This was an egregious decision that did not reflect the desires or needs of the community, as the people of the community were not listened to when this decision was made. That is not how the Park District should respond. This is a trying time, and while there are understandable frustrations with how things are moving along, it is not helpful to try and skirt the precautions the state is trying to make to keep us all safe. We cannot get back to normal if we keep trying to skip ahead of the precautions.
I attended University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and majored in theatre studies, which emphasized directing, stage management, and theatre management. Before Covid-19, I was a manager for a local photography company and managed 40-45 employees, in addition to running my own successful photography business for 8 years. I believe I have a unique perspective as a person who grew up in Naperville, and is now raising her family here.
One of the most important issues facing our park district right now is affordability. I want to ensure all Naperville residents have the same opportunities to take advantage of high quality and accessible programming. Even with two parents working, I know it was difficult to afford preschool programming for our children. Expanding scholarship programs to aid residents that might not be able to afford park district services will be a high priority for me. In addition, comparing our pricing to surrounding suburbs will help us stay affordable for residents.
I have concerns about spreading the virus through large gatherings and in buildings. I believe we should listen to both our government, and science in regards to reopening classes and facilities. I think we need to develop more strategies, if anything, to reach more people through virtual programming even after the pandemic. There are many people that will not be able to venture out long after our country returns to a sense of normalcy as they are high risk. I would love to see programming that is inclusive of every possible situation.
I would like to see more diverse and relevant cultural programming. Cultural dance programs, I believe, would do very well if offered at the park district. I also think we need to develop more inclusive programming for children of neurodiversity. Both these types of programs would do very well, and would be funded mostly by participants and scholarship funds, as I think Naperville looks for this type of programming. I have heard from many people that they go to other town's and city's park districts for that programming, and I think it's a a shame we don't offer more in those areas.
I believe the lawsuit was a waste of time and money. Instead of spending that budget on technology to reach people when they may have felt alone and isolated, the board chose to use the money as political grandstanding to make a point to the governor. The lawsuit went nowhere, and did nothing, I think it's a travesty that tax payer's dollars were misspent like that. Our park district should aim to bring community together, and that lawsuit did nothing but further divide us.
My background is in Finance and I presently work on financial software as a Senior Software Engineer (over 12 years of experience doing so). This uniquely positions me in being able to understand theory and create practical, real world, solutions. In doing so I weigh the trade-offs of those applications on a daily basis such as how long it takes to do something contrasted with making that something as perfect as possible. The members of the Park District need to weigh trade-offs when making decisions by way of deciding which projects to take on with taxpayer money and I feel I am well versed in trying to make these decisions. I also have two young children (7 and 6) that participate in many Park District activities and I also volunteer as a coach for some of those activities giving me hands-on experience.
The most important issues facing the Naperville Park District right now, in my opinion, is being fiscally responsible and transparent to the public. The pandemic and yearly increase in property taxes directly hurts consumers’ purchase and saving power. The Park District has estimated no average increase in property taxes for the next year while maintaining a Moody's Aaa bond rating, but I would like to continue to try to keep our taxes as low as possible while providing the best service as possible such as not ballooning tax levies. Additionally, while all of the Park District Meetings are recorded and uploaded, I would like to see if it’s possible to have meetings live, especially considering they had been live while hosting them over zoom.
The concerns I have as we transition to in-person activities and events would be trying to ensure people are washing their hands and not coughing on others. Having commuted by train in close proximity with many people for a number of years I, and others, would tend to get sick when there are more people around in a small space (train car, elevators, etc). So, in order to help reduce the probability of getting sick I think we need to emphasize measures that help such as hand washing.
The last time a public survey was done nearly half of the people had the impression that the park district offerings were mostly for kids so they tend not to participate. While there are a lot of offerings for kids, I think the next survey ought to add more guided questions to see what, if any, offerings that group of people would be interested in considering they make a large portion of the taxing body. Another issue that was brought when last surveyed was a desire for more trail walking/running/biking paths – this could be revisited to see if there is still demand for it.
It is hard for me to say whether I would or would not have supported the lawsuit to override the governor as I, and the public, were not involved in the legal discussions so I find it hard to speculate on the issue itself. That being said, I can understand the demand from residents of the Park District to open things like golf and baseball as they are outside and distanced by the nature of those particular games.
I earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University and an MBA in Operational Leadership from Aurora University. Currently I am the manager of program operations for the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program. In this role, I am responsible for managing one of the largest energy efficiency portfolios in the Midwest. Leading strategic planning and execution for residential, commercial/industrial and income-qualified energy efficiency programs, I have delivered offerings to customers who need energy-saving improvements for their homes and businesses for more than eight years. Nicor Gas, headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, serves more than 2.2 million customers in northern Illinois.
Maintaining the districts triple A bond rating is a key concern to me along with surveying the residence of Naperville to determine the needs of residence for park district services and if there are different delivery methods needed to provide services to our residence due to the pandemic
Safety/Health is the number one concern of mine and as we move forward to in-person activities and events we need to do this safely and work with our local health teams to insure we are doing everything possible to insure we do this safely and properly. I believe our staff is doing a tremendous job delivering virtual activities to our community and I believe this is one of the innovative ways that recreation services will continue into the future.
Our staff provides the best in class service to the residence of Naperville with a wide variety of recreation opportunities there seems to be something for everyone. A survey would provide the board the areas of recreation or services the residence would like to see added and from there we need to determine the best funding opportunity.
I did support and voted yes on the lawsuit I felt and still feel today that outdoor recreation is needed for a healthy body and mind. Not allowing people to walk in our parks safely, as an individual or as a family didn’t seem right to me. After we filed our complaint on May 19th the governor’s office released a statewide memo addressing most of our issues to open up our facilities for the people on May 20th. I voted yes and I voted no. I voted yes to file the lawsuit and I voted no to appeal the June 5th decision.