Jeff Waters Joins District 86 School Board

By Larry Atseff

Wait a minute. You already may know Jeff. He may have knocked on your door urging you to Vote Yes on the D-86 facilities referendum in 2019. You listened, and the referendum ultimately passed. Or, you may have seen him on a YouTube video during one of several Town Hall candidate forums explaining why you should vote for him to be on the District 86 School Board. You listened, and, indeed, he is now on the board. It is clear Jeff wants to better an already great education for students in D-86. His passion comes from a couple of key sources. First, when he was growing up in Naperville: “I got my work ethic from my Dad, who spent his entire career in the insurance industry after proudly serving our country for four years in the Pacific theater during WWII. He ascended the corporate ladder at CNA Insurance where he retired in 1997.” “My Mom instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us. She got into real estate in the early 1980’s and became a top realtor in Naperville, where we grew up.

They both taught us that hard work guaranteed nothing, but without it, success could be elusive.” “My parents raised my older brother Frank, my twin sister, Jenny and I on a commitment to family, faith, friends and community. Among the so many great lessons they taught us, ‘You learn more with your ears than with your mouth’. That lesson has stuck with me and I’ve dubbed ‘Shut up and listen’ as a personal mantra to foster cohesiveness and drive productive communication with others. That concept has served me very well in business and when working with people in various capacities. It empowers those you encounter and in so doing enables you, certainly, to learn new things, but also offers you the opportunity to amend your position with new information.” A second influence was fellow Hinsdale resident Kari Galassi. “Kari recruited me in the late summer of 2018 to foot canvas the District and go door to door with other community members to encourage voters to pass the November, 2018 referendum.” “Following the failed facilities referendum in November, 2018, Kari then created a movement with the ‘VOTE YES’ committee that spread like wildfire across the District. Kari was gracious enough to include me in the effort and the toil of hundreds of other volunteers resulting in a decisive passage for the D86 referendum in April, 2019.

“I may be new to the District 86 school Board, but long on interest and passion to serve in the most appropriate fashion to best mirror and represent the collective demand of the district.”

Thanks to Kari’s leadership and smarts, we were successful despite efforts of some to try to mislead voters into needless concern about increased taxes that would never materialize. We overcame objections and our effort resulted in the second highest rate of passage in the last 25 years for any school referendum in the state of Illinois. Voter participation for the April, 2019 referendum increased 180% from 15% to 43%.” “Subsequently, seeing what hard work can do, this year, Peggy James and I ran together for the D86 school Board and again enjoyed success at the polls from an outpouring of support from the residents of District 86.” When asked why he decided to run for District 86 School Board, he replied: “I made the decision to run following the completion of the 2019-2020 school year. I became increasingly familiar with the machinations of the D86 School Board during the referendum cycle of 2018-2019. An upgrade to the existing remote ‘Zoom’ platform seemed both obvious and necessary to myself and so many others in the community which would increase total instruction time and provide a more collaborative learning environment for the students and the teachers. The cost was minimal and the resources were both available and plentiful through a few different arms of the D86 financial ecosystem.

On behalf of the community, I encouraged the Board to make an upgrade but the topic never made the agenda. This galvanized me to run for the Board of Education in the April, 2021 election.” When asked what’s next for him now that he is on the school board, he replied, “I may be new to the District 86 school Board, but long on interest and passion to serve in the most appropriate fashion to best mirror and represent the collective demand of the district. The D86 equation has multiple variables, including residents, teachers, faculty, staff and administration.” “The variable which I assign the greatest coefficient to is the 4,000 students in the District. Keeping them front and center in my mind allows me to allocate my energies appropriately to best serve the kids.” “It is both a pleasure and an honor and I approach it with the utmost sincerity and the highest regard. STUDENTS FIRST!” When asked how he has been a good Dad, Jeff says, “An interesting statistic I came across cements my commitment to spending as much time as possible with my kids. Approximately 90% of all the time parents spend with their children is the time shared before the kids reach the age of 18. The investment we make in terms of the quality time we spend with our kids now will pay dividends in the future and hopefully change that staggering statistic, markedly, and to the downside. Family First!”

*Photo provided by Jeff Waters