Lifelong Oak Parker and seasoned civil servant Christina Waters has announced she is running to become Oak Park’s next village clerk. Waters currently serves as deputy village clerk under current village clerk and mayoral hopeful Vicki Scaman, whose term expires in April.
“With Vicki leaving, it’s a natural progression for me professionally,” Waters told Wednesday Journal.
The village clerk serves as a liaison between citizens and village government. The responsibilities held by the clerk include swearing in public officials, coordinating responses to public records requests, managing membership of citizen commissions and the posting of public meeting agendas and minutes, among other duties. The village clerk does not have the authority to vote on village board matters.
“I definitely feel like the village clerk plays a bipartisan role in the community and it’s a role for the people,” said Waters. “I’ve spent my life working for the people because that’s my passion.”
The village board just recently began discussing the future role and compensation of the village clerk. Any changes set by the board would impact the clerk elected next April.
While the village clerk is an elected official, the deputy village clerk is a member of village staff. This is Waters’ first time running for public office, despite a long career working in local municipal agencies, starting with the Park District of Oak Park.
“I worked for the Park District of Oak Park, from the age of, like, 16, up through my early 30s,” Waters said. “I was a facility attendant, I was a lifeguard, I was a soccer coach, a basketball coach.”
Waters was promoted to the newly created position of facility scheduling coordinator for the park district in 2007 and held that role for almost four years. In 2011 she became the park district’s facility scheduling and parks coordinator.
“It was really amazing to be a part of that transition at the park district, when we used to be more of like a community centered organization,” said Waters. “And then we went to a program centered model.”
She left the park district in 2014 to work as an administrative coordinator at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where she stayed for just shy of three years. It was in that time Waters recognized just how much she liked working for the community she lived and grew up in.
“It wasn’t until I went downtown, that I realized how much I missed being a part of my community in this way,” said Waters.
Waters began working for the village of Oak Park in 2017, serving as executive secretary to Tammie Grossman in development customer services. She also worked in the human resources department, before becoming deputy village clerk this past July.
Although Waters said she appreciates and loves being an employee, Waters is ready to work for the village in an elected capacity.
“I want to give back to this community as much as I possibly can because this is the community where I was born and raised,” Waters said.
Oak Park is also the community where Waters has chosen to raise her kids. A single mom, Waters has three children, all of whom are very involved in activities in Oak Park, especially softball and baseball.
Waters stays active in the community outside of work. Last year, Waters participated in the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation’s Leadership Lab. She’s also spent time volunteering in Oak Park schools and at the West Cook YMCA. Currently, Waters sits on the park district’s Citizens Committee.
If elected village clerk, Waters plans to continue along the path started by Scaman, whom she said has done a “phenomenal job” as clerk.
“She’s been really transparent. She works so well across government entities,” said Waters. “I would love to maintain that ability to work across government entities because it’s really important that we’re all working together.”
Waters wants to ensure people view the village of Oak Park as an accessible, welcoming place, where citizens feel comfortable going into government buildings and asking for help.
And as village clerk, Waters believes she is up to the task.
“I have worked as a resource for people. I’ve built relationships around me and for the community,” she said. “I know I’ve done a phenomenal job bringing people together to work in community with one another.”
And her work for the Oak Park community isn’t finished, she said.
“I’m just getting started.”