Two seek District 3 seat on Dupage Forest Board
Family: he and wife, Olesya, have a 1-year-old daughter, Anna
Education: bachelor’s degree from Rollins in Orlando and working on master’s in public administration from UIC
Family: married for 31 years to Phil Painter, the couple have 3 grown children and have lived in DuPage County for 21 years
Education: bachelor of science in nursing, Winona State University, Minnesota
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:42PM
DUPAGE COUNTY — Steve Leopoldo has attended DuPage County Forest Preserve Board meetings for four years.
Now, he thinks it’s time to sit on the other side of the board dais.
Leopoldo, a Democrat from Westmont, will take on Republican incumbent Linda Painter of Hinsdale for the position of DuPage Forest Preserve Commissioner in District 3.
Like Leopoldo, Painter said her contact with the forest preserve commission began long before her name appeared on a ballot. A frequent visitor to the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve near her home, Painter advocated as a citizen for completion of the preserve’s 10-mile bike and walking path and sought improvements like benches and a shelter for those, like herself, who use the path.
“I was and still am a big proponent of open space,” said Painter.
During her first four years the district added more than 470 acres of open space, 83 of which are in District 3.
“I’m very proud of that accomplishment,” Painter said.
Leopoldo, who also calls himself an advocate for open space, has another form of growth in mind if elected. He would like to see an ethics committee formed to address issues such as the alleged harassment of volunteers at Danada Equestrian Center, which was brought to the board’s attention in July. He said volunteers who spoke up about the situation were let go or otherwise forced to leave.
Painter said the commission has an “extensive ethics policy” and an ethics committee. She said the situation at Danada has been addressed. The center recently received accreditation by the Certified Horsemanship Association and two veterinarians have given the facility’s horses a clean bill of health, Painter said.
Leopoldo, vice president of a public opinion research firm, also wants the part-time job of a commissioner to become a full-time position.
But one thing Leopoldo does not want to see grow is commissioner salaries. Now at $53,500 per year plus benefits, Leopoldo said that is too much for a part-time position. If elected, he said he would move to decrease the salary and benefits.
“I refuse to take any public pension. I think we’re in enough pension debt as it is,” he said.
While the position of commissioner requires 1,000 hours a year, Painter said she spends much more than that on the job.
“The commissioners are basically on call 24/7,” said Painter, a registered nurse.
Leopoldo also would like to see the forest preserve district get out of the golf business. He claimed the courses cost the district about half a million dollars each year.
Painter said the district’s three courses not only are well utilized and enjoyed by the public, they also are largely self funded.
With most of the county’s available land accounted for, Painter said she will turn he attention to proper use of that space during a second term. She also will work to let people know about the many amenities and activities offered by the Forest Preserve District.
“I think we’re the best-kept secret in DuPage,” she said.