What is the importance of Park Commissioner to residents of Urbana?
Cedric Stratton
"The importance of Park Commissioner to residents is that Park Commissioners guide and shape the practices of the park district. The decisions they make influence what the park district offers in terms of services, classes, and events. Park Commissioners are also the communities direct line for making suggestions and changes to already established practices. That is why it is necessary to fill the commission with individuals who are connected and willing to listen to their community."
Michael Walker
"The importance of the office of Park Commissioner to residents of Urbana is grounded in the value of parks and open space to the health and well being of the community and its residents. There is abundant research showing the positive health effects of ready access to open space and recreation programs. Acting together, the 5 commissioners of the Urbana Park District Board are charged with the governance of the vital community assets that our parks, environmental activities, and recreational programs represent. The policy and financial decisions of the board directly affect the quality of life of every Urbana resident."
Roger Digges
"Park Commissioners represent all residents of Urbana in overseeing the property, finances, and programming of their park district. We provide a sounding board for citizens, accountability to taxpayers, and support for park district staff."
Why are you qualified to be a Park Commissioner?
Cedric Stratton
"I believe that I am qualified for this position because I have a deep connection to this community. My family have been residents of Champaign county for 3 generations and My grandfather, mother, and myself have all worked in our schools. My age is also a strong qualification that I have. No offense to my co-candidates but I am certain that I have a greater understanding of what the children of Urbana want and need from the Park District. I want to make sure that the Park District continues to offer services that cater to all members of our community and I see no better way than this."
Michael Walker
"I have served as an active and involved UPD Commissioner since 1983 and have been the board president since 2004. During my time on the board, the UPD has become an acknowledged leader in urban natural areas, environmental education, innovative recreation programming and facility design, and art in public spaces. I have become the commissioner most knowledgeable about the district’s finances, and I am proud that the UPD has received the Government Finance Officers’ Associated Certificate of Excellence for several consecutive years."
Roger Digges
"I have spent the last half decade learning about our parks, five years researching the history of Meadowbrook, two years as a member of the Urbana Park District Advisory Committee (UPDAC), and the past year as a Commissioner. I have attended continuing education forums at our state and national conference. As a (now retired) member of the clergy, I have much experience working with teams and listening to people."
If elected, what is something you want to accomplish as a Park Commissioner, and how long will it take?
Cedric Stratton
"I would like to see more opportunities for low income families and people of color to participate in park district activities. That would be done through providing more classes that cater to those individuals and provide more financial aid type systems to afford more people the ability to participate. I believe that this could be accomplished within the first year of my service."
Michael Walker
"As a long time incumbent, I would work hard to achieve progress on three top priorities we have set for Urbana Park District, each of which will be an ongoing effort:

Outreach to the underserved residents of the district: We are more than 2 years into an effort to identify underserved populations, understand the barriers they face in utilizing what the UPD offers, and adjusting our offerings to improve participation in both formal and informal recreation and environmental activities. This will be an ongoing effort.

Improvements to Crystal Lake Park: We have some wonderful facilities in CLP (notably the Anita Purves Nature Center and the Family Aquatic Center). Other areas of the park, and especially the lake and paths, are in need of significant work. Our recent efforts have resulted in nearly $1M in external grants to combine with existing UPD capital funds that will pay for multi-use path construction and lake rehabilitation beginning this spring. There is more that will need to be done in the next phase(s) as we obtain further funding.

Trails and Connectivity: Trails and paths are consistently one of the top priorities when we survey residents. We have recently put up a “trailhead” in Weaver Park to serve the newly opened Kickapoo Rail Trail. We are working in partnership with the Forest Preserve District and the City of Urbana to improve the connections from location to the existing KRT and to plan for routes further into Urbana. This too will be an ongoing effort."
Roger Digges
"I want to contribute to the rehabilitation of Crystal Lake. I hope that can be done in the next 3 or 4 years. I also want to help the District create and maintain an inventory of rare and/or endangered or threatened plants or animals in its natural areas."
Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
Cedric Stratton
"Although municipal elections are often overshadowed by major elections I urge everyone to treat this with the same importance and to go out and vote.These are the elections that matter the most because they so directly affect your daily life. Please let your friends and family know when election day is (April 2nd) and ask them to help fill our government bodies with people willing to stand up and do their civil service."
Michael Walker
"I am a lifelong user of the Urbana parks and committed to making sure that your tax dollars are used effectively and efficiently to provide recreational and environmental benefits to our community. I believe our parks are vital to Urbana, and I am eager to continue serving as a UPD commissioner. I pledge to maintain the open design processes and responsiveness to the public that have been a hallmark of the UPD decision making process throughout the time I have been on the board. It has been a privilege to serve you. Thank you for taking time to study the candidates, and I hope you will consider giving me your vote for a new term."
Roger Digges
"I bring both knowledge and wisdom to the position of Commissioner. I have the time to be involved on committees as well as the Park Foundation, and to attend park events. I am a daily user of Meadowbrook and frequent user of other parks and programs, so I have a lot personally invested. And I will do my very best to represent all the people of Urbana."