Elia Gallegos

Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.

Age: 40

Previous political experience: None 

Previous community experience: Village Staff for the past 9 years

Occupation: Grants Coordinator 

Education: Effectively working on Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. 

How does your professional and/or volunteer experience qualify you to serve as village clerk? 

I have over 20 years of exceptional customer service experience.  I am efficient in responding to the needs of Oak Parkers and I take pride in making sure that current, comprehensive, and accurate information is available to meet the needs of the residents, organizations, businesses, the Village Manager, the Village Mayor, the Board of Trustees, and Village Hall Staff.  During my nine years of experience working for the Village of Oak Park I have focused on administering federally funded housing programs for low-to-moderate income households and affordable housing.  In addition, I administer federal funding for not-for-profit organizations for public services through a competitive application process, which applications are in turn vetted and recommended for approval by a citizens’ committee to the Board of Trustees. I am experienced in the annual budget process for the division, Neighborhood Services

What do you see as the primary function of the village clerk and what would your approach be to fulfilling those duties?

The Village Clerk’s office has a responsibility to comply with state  statutes and the Village Code which are legal functions of the job to ensure the proper receipt and handling of official documents related to the business of the Village of Oak Park. This includes the maintenance of ordinances, resolutions, and agreements/contracts approved by the Board of Trustees.  The proper maintenance of records will ensure accessibility to all residents.  My approach is to continue to comply with the appropriate state and local government laws in that capacity. My background encompasses following and implementing policies and regulatory requirements. Other functions include, record the proceedings of all Village Board meetings, Liaison for residents and Village Citizen Involvement Commission, Chair for Special Events team, Local Election authority and registrar for voters, and keeper of the corporate seal.  Just to name a few.

What new ideas would you bring to the position of village clerk in providing outreach to residents?

I believe that an open door policy is key to building meaningful connections.  My vision is to make all residents feel welcomed at Village Hall by offering several options to accessibility to records via social media and/or, if elected, to the Village Clerk.  I will strive to open a direct method of communication “ask the Clerk” page to better serve the needs of the community to build trust and efficiency.  Exceptional customer service delivery is more than act of taking care of someone’s needs but also creating a relationship of trust and loyalty beyond the immediate interaction.

What are your thoughts concerning the changing role of village clerk? Many of the clerk’s responsibilities have been eliminated and moved to other departments over the last decade. Is the reduced role of the clerk a good thing or a bad thing? Should any of the clerk’s duties that have been taken away be restored and why?

  • The changing role has in some ways, resulted in an improved customer service experience, streamlining processes and taking advantage of technology. Many of the services formerly handled by the Clerk’s office have been transferred to departments with more direct involvement with those services and able to provide more immediate, and therefore, better service.  Maintaining functions that go hand in hand is an efficient and structured method to making accessibility greater to the public accessibility.
  • I feel that one area which should be handled by the Village Clerk office is the maintenance of records and will prioritize discussions with the Village Manager and staff to return that  function to the Village Clerk’s Office.   I look forward to new digital services which will make retrieval of records more timely. 

How would you attract more volunteers to serve on citizen commissions?

The Village Clerk is the Liaison for residents and Citizen Involvement Commission, which is responsible for recruiting citizen participation to serve on commissions.  First, I will ensure that the Citizen Involvement Commission has access to the resources needed to promote citizen participation.  Second, discuss strategies and coordinate an annual workshop and invite interested citizens to meet with the chair of their preferred commission to obtain information of the responsibilities and expectations to serve as a member.  Maintaining an active list of future vacancies for all commissions is a structured and efficient way to ensure that vacancies are filled immediately.

Interestingly, vacancies on Boards and Commissions is relatively low. There are only five current vacancies, with three of those being on the Citizen’s Involvement Commission. I congratulate CIC for reaching such a high level of participation. 

It is not in the Village Clerk’s responsibilities to attract volunteers to serve on the Boards and Commissions. That is by Code the responsibility of CIC. The Clerk is the Liaison to the CIC. As Clerk, I will support all efforts by CIC to attract volunteers, and encourage efforts to expand the diversity of the membership.

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