DEERFIELD, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Deerfield Patch provided questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot. Six candidates are vying for three seats on the Deerfield Park District Board of Commissioners on Election Day. They include three incumbents Rick Patinkin (current president), Gil Antokal and Greg Lapin. The challengers are
DEERFIELD, IL — Ahead of the April 6 consolidated municipal elections, Deerfield Patch provided questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot.
Six candidates are vying for three seats on the Deerfield Park District Board of Commissioners on Election Day. They include three incumbents Rick Patinkin (current president), Gil Antokal and Greg Lapin. The challengers are Michael Brown, Joel Seeskin and Debbie Serota.
Deerfield Patch is publishing all responses submitted by candidates verbatim.
Age (as of Election Day)
Town/City of Residence
Party Affiliation (if a partisan race)
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
BSBA, 1986 and MBA, MIS – Washington University, St. Louis 1986/87
Sr. Project Manager, JPMorgan Chase – Yrs. Experience 34
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
As we come out of the pandemic, one of the biggest issues will be keeping tight reigns on the budget. Continued budget instability and unpredictability due to the pandemic will remain for at least the next year. While some projects have already been deferred, there will be added pressure to avoid spending too quickly as we come out of the 2020/21 crisis. It is possible that revenue may lag for some time as things slowly return to ‘normal.’ That said, parks and open space are likely the first place that residents will rush to with the return of warmer weather and the end of the school year coming up quickly. Increased demand will put added pressure on the park district to prioritize high-impact projects while deferring those that can wait for a return to a normal budget cycle.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
I am a supporter of Black Lives Matter and participated with my children in the march held in downtown Deerfield in June. As I mentioned to my family, the protest marches are important, but more importantly, are actions taken after the marches. The fact that Mitchell Park is being renamed is a good first step, but more can and should be done to demonstrate Deerfield’s ongoing commitment of support to racial justice.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
Renaming Mitchell Park to Floral Park is a good, first step in recognizing Deerfield’s history, however, more can and should be done. We should finish what we started and rename Mitchell Pool as well. And going forward, we should involve our entire community in learning about our past, educate future generations, and where possible, strive for racial equity.
What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?
I believe the response our state and local government organizations have shown towards the coronavirus spread have been appropriate. Although there has been some disagreement in the community, the overarching response, whether from the park district, school boards, or businesses has been to listen to science and the experts and err on the side of caution and safety for the residents of Deerfield. As difficult as it has been, thankfully this approach has helped to minimize the impact the virus has had on our community at large, and one that I fully support.
What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout?
I believe our state and local governments have been doing the best possible job given the current and constantly changing situation. If called upon to assist, I would expect the Park District to offer its facilities as a distribution site.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I along with several other candidates, chose the name Fresh Voices for Deerfield Parks because we hope to bring new ideas to our park district. The three incumbents we are challenging have a combined 56 years on the Park Board. It is important that the board reflect the changing demographics of the community and reflect the next generation of park district members. My involvement in Deerfield family theater for 7 years now, as well as fine arts programs at the middle schools and high school, bring a different perspective that will be valuable for the board
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
Having listened to a broad sample of community members over the past few months, the single biggest failure of our current board has been in listening to the community members vs. hearing from them and letting the voice of the community drive decisions. Having advisory boards and input from the community is not beneficial unless participants feel their input is helping to drive change. Whether it is renaming both Mitchell Park and Mitchell Pool, looking at options presented by community members surrounding Deerspring Pool and the potential installation of Pickleball courts, or even quick installation of Wi-Fi in some of the parks, a common complaint I have heard is that the board is not valuing input of community members on several key issues.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
Sustainability is an important value to us all, and the park district can lead in this area. I would welcome the opportunity for Go-Green Deerfield to spearhead some projects with science teachers in the district and create some new, innovative programs in conservation and renewable energy. There may be opportunities to work with Commonwealth Edison to identify places that solar panels can be installed on structures in the parks as alternative power sources for lighting. The Park District also has an opportunity to work closely with the Village’s new waste management provider to offer courses in food recycling and composting in a very collaborative way.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
For over 15 years, I have been active in the Deerfield community in several areas. At Congregation B’nai Tikvah, I served as a board member for over 10 years, acting as President for 2 of those years from 2015-2017. As my children grew up the community, I served as a parent coordinator for the Charisma show choir for 8 years, and a member of the Deerfield High School “Friends of the Arts” for 11 years now. During my time on that board, I helped establish a “Sr. Signing Day” event to honor graduating students who are attending fine arts programs in college, and helped to roll out the digital footprint for the group using Facebook, Weebly, Constant Contact and PayPal. For the last 8 years, I’ve participated in Deerfield Family Theater, a program of the park district. Most recently, I’ve contributed as a board member and part of the technical crew for 3 shows, and performed on several shows from 2010-2012.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?
I would like to see more members in our community be involved in the parks, not just as “consumers” or users of the facility, but actively helping to create new programs, help to solve problems facing our community and shaping the district. As part of the Mitchell Park rename, a recommendation was made to create a community museum to focus on the history of Deerfield and its relationship to events in the 1950’s and 60’s that are still relevant today. This type of project is a great opportunity to involve not only our Library, Historical Society and Village Board, but teachers and students in the district who can help build, sustain, and learn from such a facility. With sufficient community support, this may be an opportunity for the project to obtain state and or federal funds to build a new hub of community education and tourist attraction.
Why should voters trust you?
I have always been an active member in the Deerfield community and approach each opportunity openly and honestly. I am a strong believer in not complaining about something unless I am willing to roll up my sleeves and get involved in solving the problem. In my past community service, I have served on board where I was also charged with handling the funds of many people to achieve programming beneficial for all, and I will bring this same seriousness to handling taxpayer dollars on the Park Board. My approach to this position has garnered the support of Representative Bob Morgan and Congressman Brad Schneider, both of whom are outstanding members of the Deerfield community as well
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the use of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
Fiscal oversight is critical, especially during the pandemic we are in currently. The pandemic has cut into fee revenue due to lower in-person attendance, putting added stress on the budget. it is critical that taxpayer dollars be proactively managed. Our property taxes are already high, and I want to be sure that we spend our money wisely to provide the best services and facilities without putting an undue burden on taxpayers.
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
There is no reason I should not be able to serve the full term of this office.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
The most important qualities of leadership are the ability to listen and facilitate. Successful leaders leverage the passion and talents of those around them and lead by clearing the path others perceive.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I hope to have the opportunity to not only serve, but work closely with members of the community on new and exciting projects over the next 4 years.