Meet the Candidate: Beverly Sussman
Editor's note --This is the first of two profiles of the candidates for Buffalo Grove Village Board President. All candidates received the same questionnaire. Their answers appear verbatim without any added editorial comments or interpretation. This is done so readers can read direct answers from each candidate. Profiles will be posted in alphabetical order.
--- Stan Zoller, Content Coordinator, Buffalo Grove News and Information.
Meet the candidate: Beverly Sussman
Candidate for: Village Board President
How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove?
Please provide brief background information.
I am running for Re-Election as the President of the Village of Buffalo Grove. My husband and I have lived in Buffalo Grove for 47 years. Two of my three sons live in Buffalo Grove with their families. I was a sixth -grade science teacher in School District #96 in Buffalo Grove and Commander of the Space Shuttle Club. I was an Adjunct Professor at National Louis University where I taught science methods classes in the Masters’ Degree Program. I have served the Village of Buffalo Grove for 25 years Including my 10 years on the Village Board. I have been very active in Buffalo Grove and I have a history of service to the Village of Buffalo Grove. I was a Presidential winner and represented the state of Illinois in Washington, D.C. (PAEMST- Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching). I was President of our family owned business in Buffalo Grove, and I know what's involved in running a business, balancing a budget, writing RFPs, finding ways to save money, hiring good employees, actually doing business with the Village of Buffalo Grove as a business owner and being involved with all entities of the village. I have had a very productive and successful four-year term as President of the Village of Buffalo Grove; I am asking to be re-elected to continue serving the residents of Buffalo Grove.
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve?
President-4 years, Liquor Commissioner-4 years, Member NWMC (Northwest Municipal Conference)-4 years, Member SWANCC (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County)-4 years, Trustee-6 years, Commissioner with the Commission for Residents with Disabilities-15 years, 50th Anniversary Committee-2 years, Liaison to the Plan Commission, Health Commission, Commission for Residents With Disabilities, Arts Commission, Buffalo Grove Days Committee, Member of the Sign Code Committee, Member of the Appearance Review Team, Involved with Buddy Baseball and Fun and Food For Residents With Disabilities.
What other civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
Advisory Committee to Stand Strong Coalition, Board Member of Kildeer School District #96 Foundation For Excellence, Recipient of the United Way Participation Award, Recipient of the Best Friend Award from the Buffalo Grove Park District, Represented the State of Illinois in Washington D.C. as the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence In Science and Math Teaching (PAEMST), Served on a committee for Senator Matt Murphy, Presenter at Career Night for School District#214, Presenter for the Girl Scout Badge-Science Around Town, Presented at School District #96 and School District #102, Presented for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Sponsor for the Shuttle Bus for Buffalo Grove Days and the Buffalo Grove Art Fair, Sponsored Baseball Teams for the Thoroughbred League, Palomino League and Buddy Baseball, Sponsor of the Illinois Special Olympics with the Buffalo Grove Police Dept., Event Sponsor for the Science Olympiad at Buffalo Grove High School, Judge for the Illinois Junior Academy of Science (Science-Fair), Presented Science Workshops for Teachers on a local, regional, state, and national level. Presented students to the Village of Buffalo Grove to proclaim Earth Day in Buffalo Grove, helped write brochures for the CRD (Commission For Residents With Disabilities), wrote and published articles in journals to help teachers in the State of Illinois and USA to use hands-on science activities in their classrooms: SPECTRUM, Science and Children, The Science Teacher, Member of the Buffalo Grove Chamber Of Commerce -Gold Member for 15 years, , sponsored events for Stevenson High School and Vernon Hills High School, donations and contributions to the Village of Buffalo Grove, Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce, Buffalo Grove Park District, and misc. school districts
Why are you running for a Village Board position?
I've been a resident of Buffalo Grove for 47 years. For 25 years, I have a history of service to the Village of Buffalo Grove; I have mentioned many of these above in civic involvement. I am qualified for the job. I am honest, competent, intelligent, independent, experienced, knowledgeable, organized and passionate in what I do. I have excellent communication skills and decision-making skills. I listen to all sides of the issue before making a decision. I want Buffalo Grove to remain a safe community where we respond to people's needs. I want to maintain a good level of services while controlling the cost to the residents. Our employees and volunteers are a big part of the village; I value them. I want everything to be transparent. Residents should always know what's going on in their village. I am here for the residents of Buffalo Grove. I am their voice. Thanks to the Village Board and staff, I am very proud of our achievements in the past four years. And I hope to continue adding to this list in the next four years. Just to name a few: 1. The Village of Buffalo Grove issued more than 10,527 residential and commercial building permits. These permits represent a total project valuation of approximately 230 million dollars invested back into the Village of Buffalo Grove. 2. Four businesses alone are bringing in 10 million dollars in 7 years: Woodman’s Food Market, BITS (Business IT Source), ThermFlo/Zonatherm. 3. One of my campaign issues and one which I will continue in this election, was to involve our residents in the decision-making process for the first time ever. Our citizens participated in the largest study ever done in the Village of Buffalo Grove for the first time ever, the Lake Cook Road Market Study and Plan (Citizen Engagement). They were also involved in the Prairie View Metra Study. Our residents were asked their opinions and for suggestions. They attended meetings to see drawings of what the plans were for these sites. 4. For the first time ever, the Village Board went on a field trip to a possible new business in Buffalo Grove. We travelled to Woodman’s in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We held a public meeting at Woodman’s. We hired a bus to accommodate any residents who wanted to join us. This meeting was advertised according to the regulations of the OMA. We were very aggressive in our pursuit of convincing Woodman’s to come to Buffalo Grove. Phil Woodman was thrilled that we did this. On Labor Day Weekend, 2018, Woodman’s opened up in Buffalo Grove! 5. We have received many awards in the past 4 years, to name a few: one of the best places to live in America, one of the best places to live in Illinois, one of the best places to buy a house, one of the best places to raise a family and one of the safest cities in the country. Even our residents received an award; Out of 2500 cities rated on 10 indicators they ranked in the top 2% for their money management skills. 6. The village has a balanced budget for 2019 and reduced its property tax rate to $.993 per $100 of taxable property value.
In general, what do you see as the most pressing issues facing Buffalo Grove?
Infrastructure, economic development and pensions. The more economic development we have, the more money we have to put into our infrastructure and pensions.
There has been considerable discussion for years about economic development in the village. What kind of economic development (retail, commercial, industrial) do you think should be a priority and why?
Economic development is economic development. Whether it’s retail, commercial or industrial, as long as it brings revenue into the village. Commercial and Industrial bring in more tax dollars than retail. However, being a priority is not an issue. We are always proactive and looking at all possibilities.
Which business development plan do you think should be a priority? Lake-Cook Road corridor, Dundee Road, Milwaukee Avenue or the Prairie View concept?
The Lake Cook Road corridor is already underway. NWCH (Northwest Community HealthCare) is in the process of tearing down two buildings and putting up two new state-of-the-art buildings on Lake Cook Road. An entrepreneur has already approached the village about the Prairie View Metra Plan. So, we are ready to start working on the Dundee Road and Milwaukee Avenue corridor studies.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
First of all, we have to answer this question, why are these properties struggling? The village does not own any of these properties. Even though we don’t own the following properties, we are constantly trying to get the owners to sell them so we can move forward and encourage development from there and increase our revenue streams: Town Center, Rohrman Property and the Dominick’s in the Chase Plaza. Rohrman property - Rohrman wants 1 million dollars per acre for his property. He is in no hurry to sell that property. There are 16-17 acres which means that the property will cost 17 million dollars to buy it. We have shown this property to some businesses. So far, no one is willing to spend that much money on the property. There is a rumor going on that Mr. Rohrman is in the process of selling this property to Warren Buffett. If that is the case, something might finally work out! Town Center - We had someone interested in buying the Town Center, However, the owner wants 20 million dollars for the property. It is not worth the amount of money he is asking for the property. At some point, the owner might lower the sale price or be unable to pay the taxes on the property. At that point, a deal could potentially be worked out. We have great plans for this property. Dominick’s - I attended several meetings with the owners of Dominick’s. I also attended a meeting with other municipalities to discuss the problem of empty Dominick’s Stores in our villages. I took part in the panel discussion that was televised. The village has been very active in communicating with the owners. The village further passed an ordinance preventing restrictions that prohibit grocery stores and pharmacies on this and other sites. Jewel will not rent, lease or sell the property to any business that will be in competition with Jewel. Since the village does not control the property, the only thing we can do is try to find potential tenants for the owner. “In order for business to take place, three things are needed: 1. a willing property owner who wants to sell his property 2. a viable business who wants to buy the property 3. a proactive municipality like Buffalo Grove” In all of those businesses above, we are missing the following: a willing property owner who is willing to sell his property. It is not for lack of trying on the part of the Village of Buffalo Grove. We need our residents to get the full picture of why these properties are still vacant. Buffalo Grove is very proactive: we offer tax incentives when applicable and reduce the cost of permits for businesses to open, relocate to Buffalo Grove or to expand their businesses and remain in Buffalo Grove. Several businesses have expanded and remained in Buffalo Grove. NCH (Northwest Community Healthcare). Burdeen’s, Connexion, ThermFlo/Zonatherm and FLEX have already expanded in Buffalo Grove.
Should the village limit development to preserve green space?
This is a very broad question. It depends upon what green space you are referring to and what kind of development you are including in this question. Not all green space lends itself to development. If this question is referring to the Buffalo Grove Golf Course, we must remember that the Buffalo Grove Golf Course is a flood control area with lots of water running off from it. Just visit the BGGC after a heavy rain or thunderstorm. There is water everywhere! The cost to fix this is anywhere from $100,000,000 to $180,000,000.
Some of our volunteer groups (commissions, committees) have seen shrinking membership. What would you do to engage the community on a broader scale? What would you do to encourage broader demographic participation?
Some of our committees and commissions have been around for a very long time. We need to update them, make changes, encourage new people to join and start some new committees and commissions. Just today (March 6), I told the village manager, Dane Bragg, that I want to have a new commission for the purpose of welcoming new residents into the village and providing new residents with information about the village. I would encourage broader demographic participation on this commission. I will look into coming up with new Committees and Commissions for the Village of Buffalo Grove.
There is a proposal to add a "Community Engagement Director" to the village staff. Do you think it is needed? Explain why or why not.
Community engagement is very important. This was one of my campaign issues four years ago. Our residents are now involved in important decisions made by the village Board in Buffalo Grove. Our residents were involved in the Prairies View Metra Station Plan and the Lake Cook Road Market Study and Plan. Lake Cook Road was the largest study ever done in the Village of Buffalo Grove. Our residents filled out questionnaires and shared their opinions and pros and cons of the projects. There were meetings where they could see the renditions of the plans. The citizen engagement was very productive and successful. We have accomplished all of this without a Community Engagement Director. Now, I need to see more information about the job description of the Community Engagement Director they want to hire and why there is now computers technology involved with the job. That’s not how this job started out.
Do you think the village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
The village communicates very well with its residents and is very transparent. We communicate in the following ways: The village sends out E-news every Thursday, village Newsletter Magazine 6 times a year, Twitter, Facebook. Our Board Meetings are televised. Our COW Meetings (Committee of The Whole Meetings) are not televised. The meetings were moved from downstairs up to the main meeting room. In this way, more people could be comfortably accommodated. These COW meetings are very informal and have a workshop type of environment. We don’t sit on the dais and have a more unstructured approach. The village is the only taxing body that televises any of its meetings; the village also publishes the entire agenda on line. The other taxing bodies publish a one-page agenda, just listing the items to be discussed. The village includes all of the pages and documents that each Board member will receive, no matter how many pages are in the agenda. Our residents see what the Board sees. We are also the only taxing body that publishes the entire budget on line. No final decisions are made at a COW Meetings.
Final thoughts -- Add any information or comments about your candidacy.
I am the best candidate for President of the Village of Buffalo Grove. I have a history of service to the Village of Buffalo Grove. I listen to all sides of an issue before making a decision. I want to maintain a good level of services while maintaining a balanced budget and keeping our taxes down. I want everything to be transparent. I have leadership skills, abilities and expertise necessary to do the job. I am a leader when I have to be. I let our manager do his job and staff do their jobs. I don’t micromanage them. To be a good leader, everyone should be heard. I am available 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. I have had my personal telephone number on my business card for ten years, since I was first elected as a Trustee. I am very proud of the fact that we have involved our residents, citizen engagement, in the decision -making process for the first time ever. For the past four years as President, I have been very successful and have had many accomplishments and successes for the Village of Buffalo Grove. I will not run the Village of Buffalo Grove as I, but as we, not forgetting the Trustees, Village Manager. Department Heads and staff who all work together to make this village the wonderful place it is. These people are all responsible for all of my accomplishments and successes. It takes a village!