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Candidates Answers

Michael Eickman

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

I am running for the Winnebago County Commissioner position because of my love of nature and desire to preserve greenspace for future generations. I believe in the purpose and mission of the forest preserves and it’s a privilege to serve the citizens of Winnebago County and be a steward of the land. I believe that the preserves are our biggest asset in Winnebago County and the citizens of the county expect the board to maintain and protect them for the future.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

I own and operate Eickman’s Processing Co.Inc. in Seward a family owned business since 1953. I have an associates degree in science from Rock Valley Collage. I’ve volunteered at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory for 23 years and serve as president of the board. I also serve on the board of Sinninnippi Audubon as well as being a member of Wild Ones, North Central Illinois Ornithological Society, Natural Land Institute, Severson Dells, Inland Bird Banding Association. I am a Master Naturalist with the Co-operative Extension of Winnebago County, University of Illinois.
I have also served on the board of the Illinois Association of Meat Processor for 7 years and 7 years on the board of The American Association of Meat Processor and was president of both associations.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

Some of my goals are to promote the many opportunities that are available to visitors. I would like to see more educational programs both for the youth as well as adults and develop material to be given to schools bringing awareness to our natural world.
I would also like to work with special interest groups such as equestrians, bikers and other to find out what can be done to utilize our preserves to their fullest extent.
I would like to see communications improved, to better inform the citizens of Winnebago County of the functions of the board and future projects in the preserves (preventing problems like we have had in the past).

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

Even though the Land Aquisition Fund is currently nill it is pertinent that we try our best to acquire lands that are environmentaly fragile and fit in to the preserve system.
This might be done by getting State or Federal Grants. Corporate or private donations and even developing the foundation mentioned by current board members.
Purchasing new areas will put our thought process to work and make our preserve system stronger for the citizens of the county.

Audrey L. Johnson

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

As a current commissioner I feel that having spent a great deal of time on Strategic planning has afforded me insight into what the public wishes for us to consider in the management of our beautiful preserves. Having served previously on the Land Advisory, I am informed as to the needs to work on the greenways plan in the proper selection of land preservation and conservation and it is my suggestion that the board of commissioners consider setting up a foundation for which such lands could be purchased as well as being a “”pass-through”” facility to assist in programing for educational and ecological purposes.
It is imparative that the board of commissioners work together for the common good of the taxpayers of this county and refrain from the political entities that have found root in the current board. Wise use of natural resources and responsible and informed decisions will be at the forefront with the newly elected board and those decisions will be a deciding factor in how the preserves are used as well as the economic impact on the entire green area of our county.
My knowledge and in-depth training as a member of the National Parks and Recreation afforded me information that is invaluable to my leadership on the Board of Commissioners.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

Leadership skills that were gleaned by serving my real estate profession:
Board of Directors of Rockford Assoc. of Realtors
Board of Directors of Illinois Assoc. of Realtors
President of Illinois CRS Chapter
President of Illinois WCR Chapter
27 year Member of Local, Illinois and National Assoc. of Realtors
Land Advisory for Winnebago Forest Preserve District.
Past Regent, Rockford Chapt. DAR
Two year elected member of WCFPD Commissioners
Chairman: Land Advisory and Foundation Committees
Attendee of Special Dist. Forum-Northern Virginia
Attendee of National Parks Conference-Atlanta, Ga.
Member of Klehm Arboretum, Ducks Unlimited,Pheasants Forever, Wild Ones
Commissioner Boot Camp, Atlanta, Ga.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

I wish to further the pursuit of natural areas with the main purpose of preservation of natural resources and conserving for the future of our children and grandchildren. It is imperative that we work for the common good in doing so with understanding of particular needs as well as working within the framework of the current budget and with the thrust of setting up a foundation within which these goals may be met. Along with that, it is my desire to complete the search for a qualified individual who with take the reigns of Executive director and lead, with the help of the commissioners, the district into a stable and growing forest preserve district with valuable natural assets under capable and responsible dedicated service.

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

As I stated before, it is with knowledge of land value and understanding of the greenways plan that I can best assist in fulfilling the purpose of the district. Having been in the real estate profession for 27 years, it gives me a knowledge like no other on the board with the understanding of appraisal as well as having served on the Land Advisory Committee previously, and now serving as chairperson for the new committee to form a renewed Advisory group to be selected from the members of the community. Land management is important, and we have some of the best qualified employees possible who have the preserves in the hearts as well as their hands! Additional schooling has helped me to understand what we need to do to maintain our precious green spaces for those creatures and plants the live in our preserves.

Lee G. Johnson

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

I believe in the WCFPD Mission.I can help the WCFPD establish policies and find resources to protect forest preserves and manage them so that their natural assets will be available to be enjoyed by present and future generations.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

I have served as Board member,President,Executive Director,& fundraiser in non-profit and business organizations.I have helped with strategic planning,written mission statements, personnel policies, by-laws, budgets & work plans.Because I have been on Boards & a paid Director, I understand the correct relationship between a Board and its Director.As Director,I led Burpee Museum of Natural History in great growth with Educational programs while keeping the budget in the black.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

– Natural resource preservation and management
– Increase communication within WCFPD and with
the public
– Increase educational activities to provide
public enjoyment and appreciation of the value
of the forest preserves
– Find additional non-tax revenue

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

My life-long interest in all aspects of nature and how it functions has equipped me with extensive hands-on knowledge of how nature works and what is needed to preserve a healthy natural world.
My business experience plus my knowledge of the natural world will allow me to contribute substantially to the WCFPD Board fulfilling the purpose of the District.

Cheryl Maggio

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

I am running again because I feel there is still much to be done with the first board. I would like to see the strategic planning completed and be able to move forward and implement more educational programming in our preserves.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

I think my strong points are the financial aspects of the district. We have very capable staff that have the experience with the 9,500 acres that we currently have.

I want to find dollars in the current budget that can be re-directed to the educational programs that need to be re-introduced.

I would like to see a volunteer program introduced because I know that we could have volunteers doing wood cutting and that would free up our staff to do other things that they have the skills for but have possibly not had the time for.

I feel that my background in accounting and budgeting should help voters feel that this is not a YES board and there is a LOT of discussion concerning having systems in place that help utilize our financial resources in the best possible way.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

A top goal for me is to implement education programs and have ongoing events in the preserves for families. I would like to see some of the savings we were able to capture from the newest Sheriff’s contract be used for some additional educational direct service for school children in this current budget.

I also want to see a new Executive Director hired so that our retired director can actually retire.

I also want to look into additional revenue generating programs; such as a form of hunting in some of the more remote preserves. Hunting is something that should be looked at as another avenue of protecting the flora and fauna and should be looked at as “preservation and protection” and not as a type of recreation.

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

If I have the privledge of serving again; I will help the staff continue to protect our lands; within our budget. We have amazing staff out in the preserves and I am a better person for getting to know them.

I will work with the staff and board help them understand that there needs to be procedures in place at the board level to bring items to the board several months before deadlines so that the board has time to review items which could in fact help with communications with the public as well.

We need to develop a work calendar for the board and managment staff and by hopefully implementing something like this; we would not experience as many surprises as we have these past two years.

Bev Moore

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

When I was the coordinator of the Boone & Winnebago Regional Greenways Plan I did a lot of travel and exploration of properties owned by WCFPD. Because of that knowledge, I feel that I could provide some vision and direction for the future use of them depending on if it is viable and financially doable.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

Owner of a Business for 40 years.
Coordinator of the Boone & Winnebago Regional Greenways Plan 1995-1999.
Experience gained serving on the Boone County Planning Commission for 10 years.
Experience gained from serving on the Stormwater Management Planning Committee in Boone County
Acting as Executive Director of Illinois Trails Conservancy for 10 years.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

Manage and maintain properties owned by WCFPD with funds available
Connect with other agencies such as NLI and Openlands to acquire additional lands for WCFPD.
Finding opportunities to raise funds for the future of WCFPD.
Make more people aware of the existence and importance of properties owned by WCFPD.

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

Plan programs that will encourage citizens of Winnebago County and surrounding areas to visit and use the WCFPD properties.
Make every effort to generate funds to maintain and purchase property for WCFPD

Eric Stromberg

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

I am running for Winnebago County Forest Preserve Commissioner because I want to get involved in my community and look out for the interests of my fellow citizens. I think that my educational background and life experience are well suited to overseeing the long term direction of the Forest Preserve District. I think that it is important for the still fledgling Board to focus on rebuilding the trust of the taxpayers and focusing on the long term mission Forest Preserve District.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Physical Geography with a focus on Soil Science and GIS. I am an avid fisherman and enjoy canoeing and camping in the Forest Preserves. I currently serve on the Loves Park Zoning Board of Appeals and worked in the County Planning and Zoning office prior to my current position at North Park Public Water.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

I’d like to see the board hire a new director to fill the very large shoes Tom Kalousec leaves behind. I will work to expand the opportunities for enjoyment of the Forest Preserves by the people of Winnebago County. I’d like to help the Forest Preserve District partner with local schools to expand outdoor education and natural science education. It is critical that we foster in our children a love of nature and a desire to preserve it for future generations.

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

I will work to refocus the Board on its mission of land acquisition and conservation. I’d like to look into using a Foundation to assist in fundraising and land acquisition, this arrangement has worked well for the Park District and other entities. We must place a bigger emphasis on acquiring sensitive lands along the Pecatonica and Sugar rivers. At the same time we must ensure that we are careful stewards of tax dollars and making sure that all expenditures have the goals and mission of the Forest Preserve in mind.

Jeff Tilly

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

The primary reason I have chosen to run for this office, not only once but for the second time, is because of my passion for nature and the necessity to preserve and protect it. As a child, growing up practically next door to the Kishwaukee River and Blackhawk Springs forest preserves, I’ve spent a great deal of time playing and exploring the vast network of forests, rivers and streams in these areas. I fully appreciate the significance our forest preserves, parks and natural areas have on our children and the community that we live in.
As a recent graduate of Leadership Rockford, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s signature leadership training program, we discussed throughout most of our sessions that it is vital to our community, and to the citizens who live here, that as future leaders and to ensure our community grows and flourishes for the future, we must take actions to get involved and make a difference. I strongly believe that a sustainable and flourishing forest preserve system, along with parks, paths and other recreational elements, is critical to a strong and vibrant community. Getting involved and making a difference through my passion for the preservation of our natural lands and resources in and around Winnebago County is my way of giving back to our community and primarily the main reason I have chosen to run for this office. For more information about me and my campaign please visit my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tilly4wcfpd

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

As I mentioned above, my purpose for running for the office of Winnebago County Forest Preserve Commissioner is primarily to ensure that the forest preserves and other natural land throughout our region are maintained and preserved for many generations to enjoy. I feel I am qualified to uphold this position because I posses good leadership qualities and a have a strong desire to see that the forest preserve district thrives in what it does best; protect and preserve the natural lands of Winnebago County. I am a hard worker and highly motivated to get the job done right the first time, and I always finish what I start. Over the past 24 years I have held only 2 jobs, Assistant Production and Facilities Manager for 18 years at the Rockford Register Star, and prior to that, six years in the United States Navy, serving in both Desert Storm and Desert Shield. My dedication and commitment to the employers in both of those careers is how I pledge to serve the citizens of Winnebago County as their forest preserve board member.

I also hold an Associated Degree from Rock Valley College in Electronics Engineering, and participated in and completed numerous other leadership and management training courses through my career. Also recently graduated and was chosen by my peers as a 2nd year moderator of Leadership Rockford, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s signature leadership development program.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

My first goal, which I believe is also that of the current board, is to find and hire a qualified replacement for our semi-retired director Tom Kalousek. Tom’s dedication, commitment and professionalism as the Executive Director of the Forest Preserve District has been exceptional and the board will be hard pressed to find a candidate to fill his shoes.

Additionally, my primary focus would be to create a higher level of transparency to the public and the citizens of Winnebago County. Creating programs and policies to ensure that our communities are not only involved in the operations and practices of the forest preserve district but remain engaged in our processes and decisions, is extremely important to me. By having an independent board of commissioners, separate from the County Board, we have the luxury of connecting directly with the people who utilize our resources and in turn gain a greater perspective of their concerns and needs of our forest preserves.

And finally, I would work closely with the other board members to reinstate the Land Advisory Council, made up of residents throughout our community with naturalist and conservation backgrounds, to gain a greater perspective on the necessary lands and natural areas in need of acquisition and preservation. I feel it is crucial to find ways to acquire and preserve land throughout Winnebago County, especially adjacent to current preserves and along key areas of Pecatonica, Sugar and Kishwaukee rivers. Re-implementing the Land Advisory Council will ultimately help the district achieve that mission.

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

To recap the Forest Preserve District’s mission; we are to acquire lands and protect them in their natural state along with protecting the flora, fauna and scenic beauties of those lands for the purpose of education, pleasure and recreation of the public. To be better equipped as a district, and to fulfill this mission, we are in great need of obtaining funds to acquire new land. With the current land acquisition fund at nearly zero, I will work diligently to find new ways to obtain these funds by working closely with various state and federal programs, including the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program and the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF). Through these programs many grants and other funding resources can be obtained for the purpose of securing and acquiring land throughout Winnebago County.
Additionally, I will work vigorously to ensure that the district works within it means and acts responsibly with the additional funding resources it collects through the tax payers of Winnebago County. Currently our preserves are an absolute gem to visit and offer the citizens of Winnebago County a wide variety of amenities and recreational opportunities, as well as some incredibly beautiful and serene places to enjoy and view the natural wonders of this region. As a board commissioner, I pledge to hold our current forest preserve’s to a higher standard by remaining fiscally responsible, working closely with the public to address their concerns, as well as offer new opportunities for recreation and educational programs of our children.
To learn more about Jeff Tilly his views on other issues concerning the Forest Preserve District, please visit http://www.facebook.com/tilly4wcfpd or email at jeff.tilly@comcast.net

Lenae Weichel

1. Why have you chosen to run as a Commissioner of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

Public service has always been a part of my life, whether volunteering in the community or serving on non-profit boards and committees.

I believe that the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District (WCFPD) is a great asset and I want to contribute to its long, successful history in serving the county’s residents and our natural areas.

I am a regular visitor to our forest preserves and natural preservation is important to me. My interest in the Forest Preserve District is apparent by my regular attendance at WCFPD Board meetings over the two years since the board was formed. I have kept abreast of issues and actions and am ready to get to work.

2. What are your qualifications to be a Commissioner of WCFPD?

I hold a Master’s degree in Administration, Bachelor’s degree in History, and am a Certified Illinois Master Naturalist. I have served on numerous boards, especially those with missions of natural land conservation, preservation, or education.

I have served in our community on boards (including executive appointments of all types), committees (often as chairperson), and as a volunteer. I have experience with budgeting (including multi-million dollar budgets), management (people and facilities), educational and recreational programming (for all ages and backgrounds), and problem-solving through my community involvement and in my career in higher education.

My experience and understanding of ecology and local ecosystems coupled with my positive attitude and willingness to jump in and get to work make me uniquely qualified to be a Winnebago County Forest Preserve District Board Commissioner.

3. What are your goals for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District?

-Preservation and Stewardship: To continue to preserve and protect natural lands in Winnebago County.

-Fiscal Responsibility: To be frugal and responsible with the tax dollars controlled by the district. To utilize creativity and partnerships for funding sources.

-Infrastructure and Maintenance: To add to the holdings only when the land is of good value to the District and the environment and to maintain facilities with a long-term plan.

-High-Quality Programming and Recreation: To continue to partner with non-profit organizations (Severson Dells Nature Center, Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Macktown Living History Education Center, Sand Bluff Bird Observatory, etc.) to provide high quality programming and education opportunities for the citizens of Winnebago County as well as visitors (who bring dollars into our community from elsewhere)

-Transparency and Communication: To conduct the public’s business openly and in a transparent manner; making information available online and easy to find (agendas, board packets, minutes, etc.).

Please visit the facebook page: Lenae Weichel for Winnebago County Forest Preserve for more details.

4. The legal stated purpose of a forest preserve district is “to acquire…and hold lands…for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauties…and to restore, restock, protect and preserve…said lands together with their flora and fauna as nearly as may be, in their natural state and condition for the purpose of education, pleasure, and recreation of the public.” If you are elected commissioner, how will you help the District fulfill this purpose?

As a commissioner, I will be charged with following the mission of the WCFPD and, along with district staff, being a good steward of our county’s natural areas. The Forest Preserve lands should be managed and expanded in the best long-term interest of the owners (all of us in Winnebago County). This includes securing and protecting natural spaces and all that goes with them (flora, fauna, natural resources, and facilities).

In our current fiscal environment, acquiring additional land will likely require the pursuit of alternative funding sources such as private organizations and foundations. Because I have experience in writing successful grant proposals as well as administering grant programs, I can be of service to the WCFPD in this endeavor.

Perhaps the most important part of working for the citizens of Winnebago County will be taking the time to ensure that due diligence is a regular part of the decision-making process.

I am excited about the work of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District and look forward to serving you.

If you would like more information about me and my campaign, please visit www.LenaeWeichel.org, like the facebook page Lenae Weichel for Winnebago County Forest Preserve (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lenae-Weichel-for-Winnebago-County-Forest-Preserve-Commissioner/457863667581562?ref=hl), or contact me directly at info@LenaeWeichel.org.