Kim VanderSchaaf is the vice president and analytics manager at Harris NA Bank in Chicago. She graduated with a bachelor of arts from Knox College, and a masters of business administration from DePaul University KellStadt Graduate School of Business. With a career based on listening to clients' needs to solve complex problems, VanderSchaaf said her combination of analytical and listening skills would be essential to implementing her vision of a board that "proactively solicits and welcomes community input, then embraces that input in decision making."
Patch: What is the primary reason you are running for this office?
VanderSchaaf: I believe in participatory, representative government where actions and decisions are built from the ground up. Engaging our community in dialogue is critical, so that decisions and plans are based on the needs of the community. I also believe the composition of the Board should more closely reflect the composition of our community. Wheaton has a diverse population and this should be mirrored on the Board.
Patch: What will be your single most important priority if elected?
VanderSchaaf: I’ll strive to create an environment in and out of Park Board meetings where the community’s opinions and ideas are not only heard, but welcomed and considered before key decisions are made.
Patch: What sets you apart from the other candidates?
VanderSchaaf: I bring a unique perspective, skill set and vision for the Park District. I believe our community is best served by engaging it in setting the direction for the future of the parks. With my election, I hope the next four years can bring a more open and inclusive dialogue between our community and the Park District and a greater concern over how the District spends our money.
Patch: How long have you lived in Wheaton?
VanderSchaaf: I lived on the East side of Wheaton for several years after graduating from college. Although I moved away, I could not find another town that matched the spirit and feeling of ‘community’ I found in Wheaton. When Brian and I were looking for a place to put down roots and call home, we were drawn back to Wheaton. Twelve years later, we are still happy and excited to be part of this remarkable community.
Patch: What's your favorite thing about Wheaton?
VanderSchaaf: Wheaton is a wonderful place to live, with our sensational neighbors, strong schools and top notch amenities, including the restaurants, shopping and especially our parks!
Patch: What is the biggest problem facing the park district?
VanderSchaaf: The Park District has considerable opportunities to increase the transparency and openness of its meetings and to encourage healthy debate among Board members and the community.
Patch: What ideas do you have for the Wheaton Park District—whether new ideas or on current issues facing the board?
VanderSchaaf: Because community involvement is critical to the success of the Park District, I want to implement a more proactive approach to engaging our community in dialogue. One-sided community input during one meeting a month does not serve our residents well. The City of Wheaton offers good examples of proactive approaches to communication with residents, both through e-mail notices and informal Coffee with Council meetings. I want the Park District to build on that example.