*EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates submitted their own biographies
Christina Waters is a passionate leader with 20+ years of local municipal experience. She is driven by a desire to enhance her community through service. Christina is ready to hit the ground running as she currently serves as Deputy Clerk for the Village of Oak Park.
As Village Clerk, she will continue to work with the Village of Oak Park Team to ensure government transparency through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), digitize document retention and processing within the Clerk’s Office and support community engagement through Commissions and Committees.
Christina’s dedication to serving her community dates back to when she was just 16. She started out working at Longfellow Center and lifeguarding at Rehm Pool. Ultimately, she worked her way up to Facility Scheduling and Parks Coordinator at the Park District of Oak Park. In that role, she worked with individuals and local organizations to provide space to meet their needs. She also oversaw the team of Facility Attendants who worked throughout the community at the 7 community centers, 3 outdoor sport courts and the seasonal Rehm Trains. Today, she remains involved on the Park District Citizens Committee.
Christina joined the Village staff in 2017 as the Executive Secretary in Development Customer Services. Her responsibilities included working with the Parking, Planning, Neighborhood Services, Permits & Business Licensing departments. During her time in Development Customer Services, she also worked closely with the Aging in Place Commission, Chamber of Commerce and local Business Districts. After a year and a half, she was promoted to the Human Resources Coordinator.
In June 2019, she graduated from the Leadership Lab program put on by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.
Christina has an unparalleled institutional knowledge and maintains positive partnerships with community organizations and Oak Park taxing bodies (Township, Park District (PDOP), Library (OPPL), District 97 and District 200). Her passion to serve the Oak Park community, paired with her years of local experience, makes Christina Waters the best candidate for Oak Park Village Clerk.
How do you intend to increase access to public records and information for the public and what does transparency mean to you?
I will engage with residents and get their feedback on opportunities for improvement. The Village can do more to use the resources we already have through Legistar and Granicus. This will allow the Village Clerk’s office to proactively provide information to our community. I will also coordinate with our partner agencies and taxing bodies to identify ways to increase accessibility and usability.
Transparency means that information is accessible for the entire community.
Do you believe all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and responses should be made publicly available on the village website and why?
Oak Park should work to move to an Open Data portal on our Village website. Socrata is an open data platform which is currently used by a number of nearby municipal governments including Naperville and Evanston. The Village would work to make data and information available on the Open Data portal which would be housed on the Village website.
This would ensure that Village information and data would be open by default and would, at least initially, decrease the number of routine FOIA requests. This will also lower the barrier for staff and residents to access basic government data and increase transparency. The FOIA process should continue to be used by residents and the community when they cannot locate that information on the Open Portal. Additional FOIA requests would be considered in determining what additional data should be made available in the Open Portal.
What do you want to accomplish as clerk and why are you motivated to pursue this office?
I will work to:
- implement innovative ways for the community to voice their public comments and to volunteer on Village commissions;
- restore trust between the community, elected officials and Village Staff;
- digitize processes within the Clerk’s office to create efficiencies and increase access to archived data; and
- coordinate with D97 and D200 to educate students about local government and implement a robust internship program in Village Hall.
As the village clerk participates in village board meetings but does not have the authority to vote and as such remains a neutral party, will you allow your personal opinions and values to hinder your ability to carry out the duties of the position? How?
No. I have 20+ years of local municipal experience. Most recently, I have worked as the Deputy Village Clerk. It is my duty to serve the whole community without letting my personal views hinder that service. I will continue to do so as an elected official. I will have no difficulty working with everyone in our community, on our Village Board and on the Village Staff.
How do you intend to expand engagement between citizens and the village clerk?
I will actively engage our community so they can be a part of the decision-making process. Residents and local business owners must be able to voice their needs and be heard before decisions are made which impact them. It is vital that the Clerk’s office proactively seek input from community members and local businesses.
In addition, I will become our resident expert in the Village’s current digital resources, Legistar and Granicus, so that we can utilize them to their fullest potential and maximize resident involvement.
I will work with our Citizen Involvement Commission to ensure barriers to entry are removed from the volunteer application process for those who wish to participate on a commission.
I will explore how we can expand opportunities for residents to engage elected officials. Even as we emerge from the pandemic, I will work to implement online and telephone public comment tools so that residents can submit public comment to be read for them by the Clerk, presented as a recording, presented live in-person, or shared privately with the Board.
Do you believe the role of clerk should change from a full-time job to a part-time job with a reduction in salary? If no, why? If yes, what responsibilities of the clerk should be moved to a different department?
No. The tasks and responsibilities of the Village Clerk are best met by a full-time public servant. If we decrease the role to part time, the Clerk’s office will not be able to provide the level of service or transparency expected by our residents.
In fact, we should be actively expanding the role of the clerk to oversee all activities which the Clerk is legally the authorizing individual including: special events, business licenses and liquor licenses. The Clerk should coordinate these activities with the department responsible for implementation.