The Wednesday Journal sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Journal’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Graham Brisben
Previous Political Experience: 2011 D97 operating funds referendum advocacy; 2013-2017 D97 school board member; 2019 village trustee candidate
Previous/Current Community Involvement: In addition to serving on the Oak Park District 97 school board from 2013-2017, Graham’s civic involvement has included public education advocacy during the 2011 Oak Park District 97 operating funds referendum, AYSO coaching, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Beyond Hunger, and volunteering at the Oak Park Health Department’s Covid-19 vaccination events. He also helped to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to support Oak Park and River Forest youth Ultimate Frisbee, a highly inclusive sport with low barriers to access that is now the largest participation sport at the middle school level in Oak Park and River Forest.
Occupation: Graham is presently owner and CEO of a supply chain consultancy focused on clean energy and renewables and he is a partner in a Black-owned investment firm pursuing opportunities that support minority-owned businesses and communities of color.
Education: B.A. in English from the University of Iowa
1. What do you believe should be the timeframe for deciding the scope and the financing for Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Project 2? Specifically, should the current board act to make these critical decisions prior to the April election, or should a newly constituted board have the responsibility for deciding on a project that members will eventually oversee?
I am comfortable that both scope and financing plan be decided by the existing board. Those current members have all been steeped in the issues for at least two years.
2. If there is any debt component included in financing Project 2, should taxpayers have the opportunity to vote on this issue via a referendum?
Philosophically, I believe that the best practice for the funding of long-term infrastructure projects is the use of capital referendum bonds.
3. Are you in favor of returning sworn Oak Park and River Forest police officers to the OPRFHS campus? If so, what would be the best way of doing this?
As I stated at your forum: We first have to ask the question of what purpose or objective the return of school resource officer(s) to OPRF would be trying to serve. This would have to begin with the voice of the students, faculty, and administration to articulate the why of such a move. I don’t think the board should make such a decision unilaterally.
4. How do you believe that the school district will know, and over what timeframe, that the restructuring of the Freshman Curriculum is working?
The honors for all strategy is an iterative process that will take time to evolve. Having said that, my assumption is that the first point of meaningful data would likely come after the conclusion of the first full academic year of the strategy’s implementation, and in the form of grades.
5. What is your current assessment of OPRFHS’s shift from a more traditional punitive disciplinary approach to a more restorative approach? Do you believe that it is working?
I would not want to see a return to “traditional punitive” approaches to discipline, which historically have consisted of out-of-school suspensions that do not constructively address the needs and issues of at-risk youth.