Being a Trustee is a Full-Time Job
by Village of Park Forest Trustee Joseph A. Woods
Holding elected office is a lot more involved than one might imagine.
For the most part, the public sees elected officials at various events, and may on occasion catch a glimpse of them in a social media post―or perhaps may tune into a live broadcast of one meeting or another. But behind those occasions, the effective public official spends hours in preparation for the development of public policy that will benefit the citizens whom he or she serves.
Prior to being elected a Park Forest Trustee, I had only a cursory awareness of the commitment required to serve in Office: I knew that the Mayor and Trustees develop the annual Village budget. I knew that the Village Board meets nearly every week in public sessions. I knew that every Trustee serves as a liaison to one or two of the volunteer-citizen commissions. But the amount of time and effort that must be spent in preparation for these activities? Plus the plethora of other responsibilities that are involved… Honestly, I had no idea. And, it’s no wonder that citizens may not know either!
Now, I’m not going to pretend that every elected official is dedicating 24-7 to the fulfillment of duties imposed upon them by holding Office. For everyone is conscientious of his or her duties to the extent that his or her individual commitment dictates. Truth be told though, one cannot do a good job of serving in public office unless hours are spent in preparation, interrogation, and deliberation. And to spend that much time getting ready, one needs to have a sincere dedication to the job and an unwavering commitment to public service.
As a Trustee, I appreciate researching issues to be discussed and acted on at Board meetings. I enjoy seeking input from the people who elected me, as well as from those who did not vote, to best serve the collective interest. I enjoy reporting to citizens on the whys and hows of government operations. I relish the moments spent engaging with Trustees who have served in the past, in order that I understand the genesis of those things in place.
As we move forward, there lies the importance of effective communication in agreement and in disagreement. Trustees wield the responsibility and power of the vote to affect policy for the quality and betterment of their respective communities.
So I may not have expected―when I decided to seek public office―that so much would be involved. But guess what? Even if someone had told me every single aspect, I would have chosen it anyway.
So, what’s it like being a Trustee? It’s like . . . making a difference!