H-F parks election sees Johnson re-elected, Ojode wins open seat

Two seats on the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Board of Commissioners were open in the April 2019 election. Voters chose board president Steve Johnson to remain on the board, and also selected newcomer Linda Ojode.

Linda Ojode
  Linda Ojode

“I was a little surprised, but we put in a lot of hard work,” Ojode said. “For me it really underscores the responsibility people are putting on my shoulders to represent them. I take it very seriously. This is humbling, but really energizing.”

Ojode will fill the seat vacated by outgoing commissioner Christina Jackson, who did not run for reelection. Ojode beat out Brit Volini, who lost her second bid for a park district seat, by 2,308 votes to 2,083 votes.

Moving into her term, Ojode said she wants to bring her leadership experience to bear from her job as a marketing executive for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Her ideas for the board also reflect her penchant for marketing. She is anxious to receive the results from the H-F Park District survey, recently mailed to area residents.

“I’m able to build consensus, talk to folks, really listen and then communicate how we can really resolve the issues,” Ojode said. “We want residents to be satisfied with their experience and talk about it, not just internally, but externally as well. We need people to be advocates for our community, by knowing what the park district offers and taking advantage of it.”

Ojode said she thinks voters identified with her because she has two young children. She said her family enjoys services offered by the park district and she wants it to thrive, offering diverse programs and connecting with more residents.

One of the biggest challenges the park district faces is its aging facilities, Ojode said, adding it will take cooperation and conversation with all parties to decide where the park district’s finances are most effectively applied. 

“We have to move forward understanding where we have to be fiscally prudent. Where is our money best spent as a community?” she said. “Having this conversation with the board, the park district staff and the residents is going to be critical over the next several years.”

Steve Johnson
  Steve Johnson

Johnson said he is “elated” to win reelection and proud of the time he has worked on the board, including during development of The Clubhouse at Dolphin Lake and when the park district won National Gold Medal status.

“I'm happiest when I think of how the park district has continued to bring the entire H-F community together and has helped both Homewood and Flossmoor remain vibrant, diverse communities,” Johnson said via email. “I really believe that the park district provides the glue that unites our communities.”

It is not certain whether Johnson will remain board president. In order to do so, he will have to be selected by other board members, who will also elect the board’s vice president in May. 

Whatever seat he holds, Johnson said in his next six-year term, he’s excited to work with the other board members and staff of the park district.

“I'm very much looking forward to continuing to work with the other board members and the staff to reimagine our parks, programs and facilities to make sure they continue to meet the needs of our ever-changing community not only for today but for years to come,” he said.

Volini did not reply to requests for comment, but she posted a message on Facebook that said she was sad at losing despite having worked the polls for eight hours on Election Day. 

“Thank you to all those who supported and voted for me,” Volini said in her post. “I’m totally bummed, I really wanted to win a seat with the board. … On to the next aspiration, right?”

 

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