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Thursday, March 17, 2011 05:50 am

Park board race draws field of newcomers

The Springfield Park Board will have a new set of players after the election on April 5, when four candidates, plus a write-in, will run for three seats on the park board.  Candidates include current park board trustee and middle school teacher Tina Jannazzo; Ted Flickinger, a former president of the Illinois Association of Park Districts; Janine Toman, a former trustee for the Village of Southern View and Sara Wojcicki, press secretary for House Minority Leader Tom Cross. Drew Duzinskas, a former Springfield Park District employee, is running as a write-in candidate.

Leslie Sgro, current park board president, will run for re-election unopposed.

Candidates run for trustee of the park board at-large and are not limited to districts like aldermen. Jannazzo was appointed, but not elected, to the board in 2009, making this her first official run for the position.

“Right now, our budget shows that we’re taking in just a little bit more than we did last year, as far as spending money,” she says. “I would like to keep our budget the way it is and not introduce more spending,” she says.

She wants to add more natural “green space” by developing small park areas in neighborhoods with none, much like neighborhood gardens on the east side of Springfield.

Brian Schroeder, president of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Local 2050, Council 31, told Illinois Times that he will informally endorse Jannazzo for park board.

“I know we’re going to stand behind Tina Jannazzo, she went to bat for us and …the rest of them voted for the layoffs,” Schroeder says.

The union negotiates contracts, pay, files grievances and unjust terminations for nearly 125 park district employees from Henson Robinson Zoo to Springfield golf courses.

Ted Flickinger, the former CEO and president of the Illinois Association of Park Districts, once lobbied in the Statehouse for Illinois park districts. Flickinger wants an overhaul of comprehensive short-term and long-term plans, not “broad” master plans.

Flickinger strongly supports job performance evaluations for the director of the Springfield Park District in particular, to make sure the individual in the position performs at a high level.

“I’m a parky,” he says. “I’ve been a tree-hugger all my life. It’s in my blood.”

Flickinger says he has worked for parks and recreation agencies since he started as a lifeguard when he was 16 years old. He has a master’s degree in park and recreation administration and a doctoral degree in natural resource management.

“So with the years of experience being a practitioner and a professor and association manager, lobbying for parks and recreation, and my education, I think it sort of makes me an expert,” Flickinger says. He’s quick to add that he is still learning.

Toman, a previous trustee for the Village of Southern View, says that she is running a “grass-roots campaign on a grass-roots budget.” Toman is a former committee co-chair of the LPGA State Farm Classic, past vice president of the Springfield YWCA and current member of YMCA. She wants to see more females on the park board and plans to cooperate with neighborhood associations as a trustee.

Wojcicki is a former reporter for Channel 20, and has been press secretary for House Minority Leader Tom Cross for the last three years. Wojcicki says that ever since she began covering government officials as a reporter, she has wanted to take action within the community.

“I want to try to do the best I can to bring people together in terms of making decisions and doing what’s best for the constituents that we represent in the park district,” she says. 


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