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.

Christopher R. Wollmuth

Name: Chris Wollmuth 

Age: 51

Previous Political Experience: Previous term on the Park Board

Previous/Current Community Involvement: Volunteer, Park District’s Green Advisory Committee (now the ESAC), director, Hatch-After-Hours (the PTO’s after-school program at Hatch Elementary School)

Occupation: Architect

Education: B.A. in History; Master of Architecture 

1. Why are you running for the board of the Park District of Oak Park?  

I’m running to continue the work I and the Board began during my first term. That  includes making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fundamental to how the Park District  operates. It includes finishing the construction of the Community Recreation Center and,  perhaps more importantly at this stage, moving to the next level of ensuring that the  operation meets its stated goal of being a place for everyone. It includes continuing to  ensure that the Park District uses its resources efficiently and looks for partnerships and  synergies with other government bodies as well as local business and citizens whenever  possible. And it includes continuing to ensure that the Park District remains a leader in  sustainability in the community. 

2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they  be valuable as an elected official?  

I think there are three areas of experience that are particularly pertinent to the Park  District. First, I ran Hatch-After-Hours, the after school program for Hatch Elementary  School, for four years. Doing so gave me considerable experience in creating, developing  and executing class offerings very similar to what the Park District does. As such, I can  speak with experience to a large portion of what the Park District does on a daily basis  for our community.  

Second, I am a local architect with considerable experience in sustainable design. As  such, I’ve been able to offer direct and, I think, meaningful input on many of the Park District’s building and renovation projects over the past few years including the new  Community Recreation Center. For the CRC, I was actively involved in helping execute  the effort to make it NetZero, and continue to be able to advise on other building  projects.  

Third, after volunteering for what was the Green Advisory Committee, one of three  citizen advisory committees of the Park District, for several years followed by serving as  Commissioner to the Board for one term now, I think I have considerable experience with  the Park District, how it operates and what issues are important to it. That experience  puts me in the position to actively contribute to discussions and policy decisions.  

3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the park district?  

I think there are two larger areas that I believe will need to be focused on over the next  few years. The first is to continue to be responsive to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion  issues. The Park District has developed a DEI policy and has also incorporated specific  action plan for engaging the community in meaningful ways. Those efforts have begun  and have achieved some measurable results. But it is just a beginning, and those efforts  need to continue and to expand, and push the Park District even further.  The second is the opening of the Community Recreation Center. With ambitious goals  that include engaging our teens in a more meaningful way, the planning of the CRC  programs and executing them to ensure that the building becomes a resource both for  teens and the rest of the community will be a real priority and challenge.  These are by no means comprehensive, as the Park District has many other issues on its  plate, but they make up perhaps the most challenging and important issues I’ll be  focusing on in the short term if elected to a second term.

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