Following are the answers to the questionnaire provided to candidates for the Waukegan Park District Board of Commissioners, the body responsible for overseeing the finances and activities of the Waukegan Park District.
Andy Zakszeski Marr
Waukegan is my home; I’ve been a Waukegan resident for over a decade. I have over 30 years of professional business management experience. For the past 21 years, I have been an Information Technology Manager for a local school district which has provided me an opportunity to build strong skills in project management, technology and infrastructure planning, long term budget and financial forecasting along with program design, implementation and evaluation. My professional career has centered around working with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that projects and programs meet the goals of a diverse community.
I am an artist in the Waukegan art scene and have a passion for art and music as a form of expression and social / emotional wellness for children and adults. My husband Scott and I own Studio Marr and produce art from our working studio space located right inside our home in the 6th Ward. I have enjoyed exhibiting in Waukegan and being a part of ArtWauk. I am a member of the Waukegan Arts Council and have enjoyed spending many volunteer hours with Art Impact Project, Heart of the City and North Chicago Community Partners. The arts are a valuable part of our community.
I am a triathlete and a committed health and fitness enthusiast who understands the importance of sports, recreation and health and fitness in everyone’s daily lives. I have spent my entire adult life helping and supporting others in reaching their fitness goals as an indoor cycling instructor. I am a strong advocate for year-round outdoor activity and enjoy cycling, running, open water swimming at the Waukegan Municipal Beach or kayaking in the harbor.
My connections to nature, preservation and historic restoration are obvious in my hobbies and interests at home as an avid gardener and participant in the Waukegan Historical Society’s Tour of Homes.
Waukegan deserves qualified experienced leadership. Whether it be our City government, our School District or our award-winning Park District, our community deserves it – and MUST have it to be successful. Our award-winning Park District adds a huge value to the people in our community and so we must continue to seek strong leadership so that we can dream big for Waukegan and know that anything is possible.
I grew up spending the entire summer immersed in Park District programming and activities – from dawn until dusk I was at the parks. My experience and involvement kept me out of trouble, helped me make friendships with diverse groups of people and encouraged me to pursue art and sports.
Now with 30 years of successful professional management skills, my commitment as both an accomplished artist and an athlete, and my passion for providing multicultural experiences throughout our community, it is my opportunity and my desire to give back and ensure that our Park District will and can continue to provide the facilities and programming that Waukegan needs and wants.
I am passionate about our lakefront and I am terribly disappointed in the City’s ability to manage it in a way that it can be accessed and used by the community. Better community access is essential. I will build stronger momentum from our Park District to create opportunities for the community to utilize the lakefront and enjoy the incredible Waukegan Beach. There are currently no bathrooms and no running water for anyone who comes to enjoy our beaches. There is a huge, missed opportunity right now with our lakefront and I believe that the involvement of the Waukegan Park District in a partnership with the City and new initiatives would successfully increase its overall value to the community. I believe there can be a respectful balance of preservation of these areas yet still develop them in a way that would provide modernized necessities. Areas of our lakefront could easily be used for some lighted sports playing fields, open conservation spaces for bird watching, lakeside garden trails and areas for health and fitness activities, meditation and yoga. Community input is essential in these efforts so that the voices of those who share my passion for our lakefront can be heard and be valued in the direction moving forward.
Safety in our parks is extremely important and I would like to see change here with better coverage especially at night to ensure that public safety is a priority. Locations like Bowen Park where there is a large amount of acreage and wooded landscape are more and more becoming places of concern after dark for the residents living nearby.
I am committed to ensuring inclusive access to programming for our fast-growing LGBTQ+ community. It is critical that all the diverse families in Waukegan feel connected to park programming and feel welcome at our facilities. As the numbers of LGBTQ+ residents increase we need to begin focusing some effort on their needs and begin to create some programming to ensure they feel included and welcome.
Our award-winning Park District needs quality, well rounded and experienced leadership. Vote Andy Zakszeski Marr on April 6th!
Jacqueline E. Herrera-Girón
Jacqueline E. Herrera-Girón immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 years old. She grew up in Waukegan and remains very invested in Waukegan. Jacqueline is a public servant and her commitment for Waukegan is demonstrated by the varied leadership positions and volunteer work such as former President/Trustee of the Waukegan Public library, City of Waukegan Development Committee commissioner, Most Blessed Trinity Church social board member, mentor and is most proud of being a foster mom. Jacqueline was appointed to the Waukegan Park District board of Commissioners on August 2018 and retained her seat when elected on April 2019 for a two-year term. She serves as the first Latina Commissioner and Vice President of the Waukegan Park District Board. Her career reflects an undeniable dedication to impoverished communities by practicing public interest law. Some of her past positions include, Supervising Attorney at Prairie State Legal Services. Director for immigration projects at Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries. She has been awarded and recognized by the Lake County Bar Association for her public service work. She also taught at John Marshall Law School as an adjunct professor.
While growing up in Waukegan, I had the pleasure of spending many summers at Belvidere Park and swimming in the pool. It was an activity I anticipated every summer. I am committed to working to ensure there are quality parks, open space and diverse activities for children and families. I want our children to enjoy the joys of the outdoors and I am committed to ensure our parks provide that to our citizens.
I hope to continue representing all citizens and being a liaison between the Latinx community through a diverse board that reflects the demographics and needs of Waukegan. Provide cultural and accessible programs. I am dedicated to ensuring the conservation of natural and historical resources while being fiscally responsible.
Anton Mathews was born and raised in Waukegan and is running for Waukegan Park Board to serve all of us. Throughout a career that has spanned business, politics, and government, Anton has been committed to our community above all else.
Anton actively mentors youth and teaches them the life skills they need to thrive. He voluntarily serves on the boards of multiple organizations working to strengthen the financial health and civic character of the city he loves.
Community and political leaders including Congressman Brad Schneider, State Representative Rita Mayfield, and Township Supervisor Patricia Jones, support Anton because they’ve seen him respond when our community is in need.
Anton is running to increase access to our great parks for everyone. This is personal for him. Not long ago, he was one of those kids that needed a space to explore, grow and find himself. This campaign is about making sure all residents have that opportunity and are welcome in Waukegan’s parks.
-Expanding multicultural programming to include Juneteenth & Native American Cultural events
-Proactively seeking community input on cultural activities
-Increase health and wellness offerings with an emphasis on chronic disease prevention
-Implementation of a bike rental program to increase access to parks for all residents
Waukegan is a beautiful, historic city on the lake. The quality of Waukegan’s parks is undisputed and Anton will work hard to maintain that legacy through disciplined fiscal stewardship. But all governing bodies must adapt to the changes and challenges of the 21st century and ensure that services are accessible to all.
Anton believes our community’s diversity is foundational to its strength. In the City of Progress, people of all backgrounds can come together in our green spaces and recreational facilities to connect and grow together. If we work to increase access, transportation, and diversity of programming– the Waukegan Park District can play an active role in the revitalization of the city we love.