Thursday, April 6, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The Maywood Park District has started the process of looking for a new executive director. A vacancy announcement for the position was released by the Illinois Association of Park Districts, which is facilitating the search.
The district’s current executive director, Maywood Trustee Antonette “Toni” Dorris, said that she’s decided not to seek an extension of her one-year contract, which is set to end in July.
According to park district officials, the district is offering to pay a new executive director between $50,000 and $65,000. According to the IAPD vacancy announcement, “benefits are commensurate with experience and will be negotiated with the Board of Commissioners.”
The deadline for applications is May 5. The board is scheduled to begin interviewing candidates on May 29 and plans to hire someone by early July.
Dorris, who recently ran unsuccessfully for mayor, said that she decided against asking the board to renew her contract because she wants employment that offers medical and other benefits, unlike the executive director position, and due to what she described as “political antics.”
“The majority of my decision was based on [the job’s lack of benefits],” Dorris said during a phone interview on Thursday night. “I’m going to be 50 in August.”
She declined to go into details about the “political antics” she referenced but noted that “prior to me fully announcing [my candidacy for mayor], there was no problem. All the board members had seen what I had done for a year for that park district and as soon as I came out publicly, that’s when thing started.”
Dorris is a former member of the Maywood United Party, helmed by mayoral candidate Henderson Yarbrough, whose wife is Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman and Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough.
Dorris, whose four-year term as a trustee will end next month, ran for mayor on the Maywood Visionary Party ticket with three candidates for trustee and a candidate for clerk. When Dorris announced, it was widely speculated that she could possibly cut into Yarbrough’s base of support.
Trustee Melvin Lightford, who was running for reelection and is a former Maywood United Party member, was also part of Dorris’s Maywood Visionary Party ticket. Lightford was the only MVP candidate who was elected on April 4.
Yarbrough, who garnered the second-highest number of votes in a four-person race, lost to incumbent mayor Edwenna Perkins by a margin of more than 15 points, with a gap of more than 450 votes separating the two front-runners.
Also speculation — that Dorris’s announcement may have opened her up to retribution from the political powers that be.
Although she declined to talk specifics, Dorris did reference some on-the-job pressure she felt after announcing her run for mayor that she said came primarily from Maywood Park District Board President Arnettra Burnside, who endorsed Yarbrough’s mayoral run. Burnside could not be reached for comment.
During an interview last year, Henderson Yarbrough said that there was no animosity between him and Dorris, who he said only announced her candidacy because she thought that he would not be running this year. He said that, at the time that Dorris announced, he had not announced his plans.
Dorris said that there was no reason for board members to complain about her job performance, which she said most members lauded. Maywood Park District Commissioner Dawn Rone was also a vigorous supporter of Dorris’s mayoral candidacy,
In an open letter written in February, Rone lauded Dorris for creating strategic partnerships with other governing bodies and outside agencies. She also said that the trustee “overhauled the [park district’s] day to day operations, created a website and our first ever mailed newsletter that highlighted our activities and programs.”
Dorris added that, under her leadership, the park district was able to do the due diligence necessary to acquire funding to finally rehabilitate the long-vacant 809 Madison building and to carry out numerous capital projects around the park district’s 9th Avenue campus.
Dorris said that she plans on forming a for-profit entity that will “empower our people here [in Maywood].” She said that, while it won’t be under the auspices of the Maywood Visionary Party, it will embody many of the party’s goals and philosophies.
“We had talked maybe a month before the race ended and we said that win or lose, we can better the community,” she said. “We can implement the kind of things we stood for while we were at the board table.
“This will be the same group of people who came together politically, but it will also be open to the public,” Dorris said. “It’s not about our own selfish desires, it’s about bringing stuff here that our resident that our residents will want to take part in.” VFP