Jane Hodgkinson is one of four candidates running for the Wheaton Park District Board of Commissioners in the 2013 election. Hodgkinson, 63, is now retired from her 30-year career as executive director of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association in Carol Stream. She has a Master of Science in education (emphasis in Recreation for Special Populations) from SIU Carbondale and a Bachelor of Science (emphasis in Recreation for Special Populations) from SIU Carbondale. She lives in Wheaton with her husband, Patrick Cleary, and has two sons, ages 25 and 26.
Name: Jane Hodgkinson
Position sought: Wheaton Park District Commissioner
Campaign contact information: None provided
Family (name, relationship and age): Husband, Patrick Cleary, Glen Ellyn Attorney, 61; Sons, John Cleary, 26, of Lombard and Mike Cleary, 25, of Wheaton
Education (degree and school):
- B.S. in Education (emphasis in Recreation for Special Populations) SIU Carbondale 1971
- M.S in Education (emphasis in Recreation for Special Populations) SIU Carbondale 1974
Occupation: Retired, but I was formerly the Executive Director of the Western Dupage Special Recreation Association in Carol Stream for thirty years. Now I am doing some part-time consulting work
Political party affiliation: Not really—I really vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job.
Previous elected offices: No municipal elections because I thought it posed a potential conflict of interest with my position. I was elected 2004 President of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association, an association of over 2,500 park and recreation professionals across the state. I have also been elected twice to be President of my Carol Stream Rotary Club and in 1982 I was elected President of my Sunnybrook condo association.
What is the primary reason you are running for this office?
My main reason to run is to see the Hubble property (gymnasium and open space) completed and operational. This area will become a changed gateway into Wheaton. We must improve our parking for this area while maintaining the flood control value of the open space. The stop at Main and Illinois is already one of the most heavily used and frequently backs up during peak traffic. The park can create more recreation opportunities in a central location to our residents if we plan carefully.
What will be your single most important priority if you get elected?
If elected, my most important priority will be to work with other board members and the staff to use our financial resources as wisely as possible while caring for our infrastructure needs of the district.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I have over forty years' experience in parks and recreation in Illinois. I know the qualities that the best programs in the country have because I’ve headed that program nationally. I have an extensive background in programming for people with disabilities. I also have strong background in fundraising, community planning, management, volunteers, and long range planning. For the past 30 years, I’ve worked with the 8 park districts that surround Wheaton at WDSRA.
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How long have you lived in Wheaton? If applicable, how long have you been involved with Wheaton?
I selected Wheaton in 1981 when I started work at WDSRA. Its park district offered more than the surrounding districts did. My husband I have raised our sons here. We’ve been involved with youth sports, the school district, and many community groups. I headed the successful Friends of the Park Referendum Effort in 2005, named “Cream of Wheaton” in 1981, and served as Finance Chair for the Sesquicentennial Commission
What's your favorite thing about Wheaton?
I think it is a wonderful community to raise a family and we have been very happy here. Wheaton has a small town feel but an educated, eclectic populace. The schools are excellent, filled with dedicated teachers. Our religious organizations and non-profits help our citizens recognize some of the most important elements of life. Wheaton is a town that has a history of tolerating differences in people. We also have excellent parks and opportunities to participate in outdoor activities year-round.
What is the biggest problem in Wheaton?
Our vulnerability in storms (such as flooding and power outages) is one very frustrating aspect of living here. Also, Wheaton has many non-tax paying entities on our tax roll so lacks a tax base that some other towns have used so effectively. Our state is facing an exodus of people which in the long run will affect our property values and make it more important that we make Wheaton the place that people want to visit and live. In conclusion, I would say that our biggest challenge is: How do we keep Wheaton viable in the future?
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