Deputy clerk vies for Oak Park village clerk post

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Lifelong Oak Parker and seasoned civil servant Christina Waters has announced she is running to become Oak Park's next village clerk. Waters currently serves as deputy village clerk under current village clerk and mayoral hopeful Vicki Scaman, whose term expires in April.

"With Vicki leaving, it's a natural progression for me professionally," Waters told Wednesday Journal. 

The village clerk serves as a liaison between citizens and village government. The responsibilities held by the clerk include swearing in public officials, coordinating responses to public records requests, managing membership of citizen commissions and the posting of public meeting agendas and minutes, among other duties. The village clerk does not have the authority to vote on village board matters.

"I definitely feel like the village clerk plays a bipartisan role in the community and it's a role for the people," said Waters. "I've spent my life working for the people because that's my passion."

The village board just recently began discussing the future role and compensation of the village clerk. Any changes set by the board would impact the clerk elected next April.

While the village clerk is an elected official, the deputy village clerk is a member of village staff. This is Waters' first time running for public office, despite a long career working in local municipal agencies, starting with the Park District of Oak Park.

"I worked for the Park District of Oak Park, from the age of, like, 16, up through my early 30s," Waters said. "I was a facility attendant, I was a lifeguard, I was a soccer coach, a basketball coach."

Waters was promoted to the newly created position of facility scheduling coordinator for the park district in 2007 and held that role for almost four years. In 2011 she became the park district's facility scheduling and parks coordinator. 

"It was really amazing to be a part of that transition at the park district, when we used to be more of like a community centered organization," said Waters. "And then we went to a program centered model."

She left the park district in 2014 to work as an administrative coordinator at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where she stayed for just shy of three years. It was in that time Waters recognized just how much she liked working for the community she lived and grew up in.

"It wasn't until I went downtown, that I realized how much I missed being a part of my community in this way," said Waters.

Waters began working for the village of Oak Park in 2017, serving as executive secretary to Tammie Grossman in development customer services. She also worked in the human resources department, before becoming deputy village clerk this past July. 

Although Waters said she appreciates and loves being an employee, Waters is ready to work for the village in an elected capacity.

"I want to give back to this community as much as I possibly can because this is the community where I was born and raised," Waters said.

Oak Park is also the community where Waters has chosen to raise her kids. A single mom, Waters has three children, all of whom are very involved in activities in Oak Park, especially softball and baseball.

Waters stays active in the community outside of work. Last year, Waters participated in the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation's Leadership Lab. She's also spent time volunteering in Oak Park schools and at the West Cook YMCA. Currently, Waters sits on the park district's Citizens Committee. 

If elected village clerk, Waters plans to continue along the path started by Scaman, whom she said has done a "phenomenal job" as clerk.

"She's been really transparent. She works so well across government entities," said Waters. "I would love to maintain that ability to work across government entities because it's really important that we're all working together."

Waters wants to ensure people view the village of Oak Park as an accessible, welcoming place, where citizens feel comfortable going into government buildings and asking for help. 

And as village clerk, Waters believes she is up to the task.

"I have worked as a resource for people. I've built relationships around me and for the community," she said. "I know I've done a phenomenal job bringing people together to work in community with one another." 

 And her work for the Oak Park community isn't finished, she said.

"I'm just getting started."

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Reader Comments

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 3:22 PM

The only "mindless" aspect here is your unfounded criticisms of the clerk's office, T Mac. You are emblematic of this sick era we're hopefully leaving behind us- where no matter what evidence is placed before some people, they dismiss it. You believe what you want to believe. I've seen what the Clerk's office does over the years, and it deserves our respect, not mindless condemnation from people bitter over high taxes that stem mostly from other taxing bodies.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 1:41 PM

Tom MacMillan I am in favor of reducing costs in both private businesses and government and know how to do it while still leaving room for error. I have not been through the operating costs of any of Oak Parks departments or how each employ is efficient at their work and without that access I would not be able to explain what employees could be used more effectively in other departments. To me, the only waste that I think is visible to Oak Parker's is the Oak Park employee sitting in a Village owned vehicle 24 hours day guarding a mural and at times includes a squad car that may be more valuable patrolling although it is a good location to take a break from patrolling since it is centralized to the area. If you added up the cost of months of security there could be another way to find suitable security for less money while Oak Park continues its efforts to defuse any protests if the mural was left unattended. As for the Village Clerk position, I thinking it has value and it is work because I trust the ethics of Village Clerk Vicki Scaman that she would not be doing a job unless she felt she was benefiting the citizens she serves. It is a moral judgement that I think she follows and not just a paycheck. If she did not require a Village Clerk assistant then I think she would make it clear that Oak Park could reduce its budget. I think she will make an excellent Village President with my opinions of her values towards the citizens of Oak Park. If you have some information that demonstrates a Village Clerk does nothing more then arrange a room and orders in coffee then please explain where you know that from instead of throwing out allegations without anything to back it up

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 12:10 PM

Bill's probably right. Without a clerk, who would reserve the room for a meeting or make sure there is coffee? Its such an impactful, hard hitting role. It would be far healthier for the town if we stopped breathlessly pretending all of these positions were life and death, and even require staff. Nothing silly about pointing out the farce of these questionable jobs, but it seems to scare some people. We are the customers of this, so there is no reason to be mindlessly paying for it without calling BS on it.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 10:43 AM

LOL, I actually agree with you there William Dwyer, Jr. In fact, I'll take your comment one step further - perhaps the Village Manager prefers these functions under her control because they ARE important. If they were truly trivial, she might not care at all.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 10:01 AM

Wow. "Maybe the Clerk and company handle FOIAS and maybe they don't" Even for you Brian that's a new low of incomprehension. Try applying your police investigations training and do this- go to the village hall and ask to personally submit a FOIA. They'll send you to the Village Clerk's office. As for T Mac's latest silliness, the functions of the village clerks's office are not just "empty tasks." much as your empty rhetoric may be. Just because Cara Pavlicek would prefer to have all village hall functions consolidated under her control doesn't make those functions unimportant.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 12:57 AM

Lets put it this way, we have a Trustee who thinks we can get rid of all sorts of public employees, replace them all because she personally doesn't value what they do. So a citizen can certainly wonder aloud and question why we have two head counts doing this basic clerk paperwork. I would rather have one more cop and one less clerk, or one more fireman than someone doing FOIA docs. Or a smaller tax bill than some agenda work that a board member could just do. Sorry but its worth exploring and not just listing empty tasks as if that is a reason this is vital. Its not.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 11:09 PM

On Sept 20 for the article Village clerk in the hot seat, a Mary Ann Schoerneman replied to To Tommy Mac Tom M. Of course the village will go on. Maybe fill out a FOIA request and find out what the Deputy Clerk does. FYI I aint FOIAs " Yet somehow FOIAS seem to be part of the Clerk and Deputy Clerks role. Maybe the Clerk and company handle FOIAS and maybe they don't. Not knowing is the perfect frame for Oak Park.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 8:59 PM

I thought the Village Clerk and Village Clerk assistant were earning their money and it was not just position created to waste tax payer money. That is a lot of work and good to know that Vicki Scaman was involved since it gave her a very good insight into the workings of the Village of Oak Park and makes her an excellent candidate for the next Village President or Mayor of Oak Park. I read something that there was talk of lowering the yearly pay for the next Village Clerk which should not happen and it would seem that an assistant Village Clerk would already have learned enough to move into the position of Village Clerk. Oak Park is lucky to have Vicki Scaman and Christina Waters working for Oak Park with strong backgrounds in Oak Park

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 4:05 PM

Allow me to help you with your unfortunate inability to visualize things, T Mac, as well as some really basic research. From the Village website: "The Office of the Village Clerk records the proceedings of all Village Board meetings and special meetings; maintains all official legislative records, certifications and the Village seal; and monitors Village compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act and Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The office also serves as the local election authority and registrar for voters and prepares information on violations of Village ordinances. In addition, the office administers the Special Events Ordinance and oversees Village Board advisory commissions which make policy and procedural recommendations to the Village Board." .. . .For those with similar visualization deficits, I'll just add proactively that the Deputy Village Clerk assists the Village Clerk with those responsibilities.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 2:11 PM

Tom MacMillan I am not sure if it is a waste of money. There is a lot of research work that goes into certain types of work. Now if you want to consider waste of money, you may want to think why 100 North Scoville avenue requires a Village employee with a Village vehicle to stand guard what appears to be 24 hours a day, except for when the Farmer's Market is open. Try to add up the cost of a Village owned vehicle per hour and an employee per hour and it would be interesting to find out what you project the cost is for that guard duty which I can only assume is to protect a street mural which was vandalized at one time by unknown person or persons from no known source from not reading any source has been discovered

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 1:32 PM

Sorry, but it is really hard to visualize why we even have a clerk. Let alone one and then also a deputy clerk. Swearing in officials is like what, ten minutes a year. Posting agendas ? That's 30 minutes work per month. Public records requests are a big, so what. And the citizen commissions is a waste of everyone's time, as no one elected any of them. This candidate seems like a nice person, but the role and the cost of it in these times seems like a really bad use of funds.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 1:13 PM

Christina Waters seems like the perfect candidate to move into the position of Village Clerk. She, like Vicki Scaman, both know Oak Park and have gone through all of the changes. I hope the Village does not reduce the pay for the next Village Clerk since the story stated all of the work and responsibility a Village Clerk takes on

Mak Flournoy from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2020 8:42 AM

Thrilled about this announcement! Christina is a true civil leader that has already done so much for our community including prioritizing our youth and their needs. She is a bridge builder and an unwavering Oak Parker that continually strives to engage community in all of the best ways!

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