Gates, a collaborative candidate for the parks

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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At my age, I am driven toward candidates who are best positioned to achieve the greatest degree of progress on service to children, families and community in the shortest amount of time, within a context of fiscal sensibility. So I was elated to see Jim Gates, a retired teacher and former two-term board member of District 97, run for the Park District of Oak Park board. 

I first encountered Jim in 2012 when D97 and the park district were crafting a collaboration to build turf fields at Julian and Brooks middle schools. Jim and I were dispirited watching kids sit on the sidelines before school, after school and during lunch periods when our "grass" fields were covered in puddles and mud. My own children didn't like it either!

Thanks to collaborative minds at both board tables, the addition of turf fields has exponentially increased physical activity and fun among our students now and well into the future, while concurrently reducing field maintenance costs. And guess what happens when kids have fun at school? Students achieve better grades and attendance! The middle-school turf project is an excellent example of elected leaders pooling taxing body resources, trust, and private donations for the purpose of maximizing impact on the long-term health and vibrancy of our community. 

Let's remember, park district facilities are not just a place where people play; the park district is a place to develop healthy lifestyles, new skills, friendships, and unity within our community.

As you contemplate the upcoming election, I encourage you to look at Jim Gates to serve as a park district commissioner because his skill set, mindset, experience and passion for service make him an ideal candidate to lead the park district into the future.

Mary Jo Schuler

Oak Park

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