Meet the Candidate: Carolyn Pinta
Editor's note --This is the sixth in a series of profiles of candidates for Buffalo Grove Village Board positions. Candidates for Village Trustee will be featured first followed by candidates for Village 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: Carolyn Pinta
Running for: Village Trustee
How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove: I have lived in BG for 5 years.
Please provide brief background information
I am a native of unincorporated Deerfield, where I attended Buffalo Grove schools in District 102 and Stevenson High School. I am 41 years old and a teacher at Twin Groves Middle School. I have taught Spanish at Twin Groves for 19 years, since I graduated from college. I have a degree in Spanish from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University.
My husband, Bob, is a Math teacher at Stevenson and has taught there for 18 years. My daughter, Molly, is a 7th grader at Twin Groves, where I teach. My family is very involved in the community through the Community Arts Center where both Molly and I perform in the Big Deal Production musicals and Bob designs and builds sets and special props. This year, our family started a nonprofit, The Pinta Pride Project Inc., to bring Buffalo Grove an annual Pride Parade starting this June 2. Excitingly, this has gained Buffalo Grove national and even international attention through many media sources, and we are quite proud of the way the project has connected so many people in our community. What began as a project to throw an annual parade has expanded to include monthly events, supports groups and more.
Bob and I always planned to raise our family in Buffalo Grove but were finally really able to afford this privilege five years ago when we moved on to Thompson Boulevard. My entire life has revolved around Buffalo Grove and I would love to continue to serve the community!
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve?
I have not served on a village committee or commission before but have served the community in various ways from teaching in our schools for 19 years to starting two organizations for residents.
What other civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
I am an avid participant in our democracy through many different organizations, two of which, I lead. As a co-lead for Moms Demand Action of Buffalo Grove, I work closely with legislators to lobby for safety legislation and am proud to report that during the past year, my group was instrumental in the passage of at least three of them. As the founder of The Pinta Pride Project, I am connecting members of the LGBTQ community and allies to resources they need and to others in their position on a daily basis. Over the past year, my family's nonprofit has thrown five events to educate, highlight and uplift this community. I not only engage in constant civic
activity- I am a leader who gets others to participate.
Why are you running for a Village Board position?
I am running for Trustee because I believe myself to be a person who can help to engage our community in interacting more with our Village Board and being a part of local government themselves. I see myself as a great organizer and a person who is especially good at connecting people to others in the community and to causes. Also, having been a teacher here for so many years, I know thousands and thousands of community members, and feel that with this personal relationship, I could bring their voices to the table. I see the role of Village Trustee as someone who works closely with the president and the Village to keep a community safe and sound in many different ways such as fixing any problems in the infrastructures of our roads to developing the economy to raise the funds to fix any issues we may encounter. My vision of a trustee is of someone who is well known in the community and makes an effort to be visible and to reach out to truly live and breathe amongst its citizens.
In general, what do you see as the most pressing issues facing Buffalo Grove?
I see two very important issues facing our community at the moment. One is the large number of empty retail space and blighted areas in our beautiful village. This is a very prosperous, educated and caring community. There has to be a way to develop our economy more successfully to raise revenue and to afford our residents more retail options. The second area that I would like to work on is community outreach. I do not feel that our residents are involved in our local government and would like to see a diverse group of people become interested and activated. As a local teacher, I get to see firsthand how our demographics have changed and want to see our government reach out to engage this diverse group. The way to work on both of these issues is to get out in the community to have conversations, and lots of them. I do believe that our current board wants these things for our community as well. Perhaps fresh faces and voices are needed to make these changes a reality. Social engagement and interaction is a strength of mine.
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?
I am very much in favor of BG having a downtown if this plan comes to the table. I have a young family that wants to be out and about on the weekends, enjoying things in our own village. I would like to be able to shop and dine and spend my dollars in our own village rather than taking my business elsewhere. I am open to hearing where the best spot would be to build this incredible venture, but I know that there are two golf courses in town and that the Buffalo Grove Course could offer a wonderful site if developed correctly. As for a timeline, this is not something that happens overnight and I would like to see it done right, so I would love to see at least the planning and the finances come through over the next four years. I believe that the current board has provided wonderful statistics that show that the industrial areas of BG are thriving and while I would love to see that continue, I would be focused more on retail and commerce.
Which business development plan do you think should be a priority? Lake-Cook Road corridor, Dundee Road, Milwaukee Avenue or the Prairie View concept?
I believe that all of these areas are priorities and that they can all be worked on piece by piece. I also believe that the development of one of these areas will help spark the development of others. I suppose that I would most like to see the Lake-Cook Road corridor develop first because it is the highest area of traffic, but Dundee is a close second and I think that the new Prairie View concept is wonderful and seems to be well on its way to fruition.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
I believe that exciting new retail in a new area could spark the redevelopment of struggling areas. If we are able to bring in some higher end retail and dining, that would be a real game changer for the village. I also hope that by bringing new voices to the table, that eventually, the Town Center project could be looked at again, as the vision was epic! It is impossible to deal with an owner who won't sell, so incentives and also continuing to have conversations are key. Overall, we need to do everything we can to encourage businesses to be in BG by being as kind and accommodating as possible. We need to support and not nit-pick on small details.
Should the village limit development to preserve green space?
I absolutely think that green space is important, so any project should incorporate a vision for how it will be accessible to the community. I know that that last plan for a downtown on the golf course that turned out to be the wrong deal for this village did at least boast many acres that would have been used for outdoor green space that could be enjoyed by all, where now, we have a fenced in golf course.
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?
Community outreach and engagement are my specialty, as I have encouraged and actively sought the participation of thousands of members of this community between pride and Moms Demand Action. I have a wide network of people to reach out to. I have found that when I am actively involved in making change, that I can get others to do the same. I am excellent at working with community members through social media and would use the same approach to engage others to participate as I do to get them to participate in a wide range of events that I run monthly in the village.
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.
When I first heard about this position, I was very excited about it and thought it was an excellent idea. The village board has identified community outreach as an area that they wish to improve upon and hiring someone to work on this sounded key. I did, however, witness some debate about the position, its cost and the software that might need to be purchased to go along with this position. The members of the board were not yet convinced that the position was necessary and I do understand their point of view. I believe that one of my roles on the village board could be community engagement and honestly, this is a big reason that I am running! I hope to work personally on this issue myself.
Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
I do believe that the Village tries to communicate, but that the communication needs to continue to be updated for modern times. The board has already worked on this with the village by creating a wonderful new web site. I was at the board meeting where it was introduced and have enjoyed playing around on it and familiarizing myself. It is now much more modern, user friendly and appealing. Here is one area for improvement- we must watch the trends in our village and learn how people are communicating and then follow along accordingly. The Everything Buffalo Grove Facebook page is filled with folks talking about the issues in our community. It seems that the generation that we are engaging in our local politics enjoys the use of Facebook. We should, therefore, be finding ways to engage in social media with the village. This is just the wave of the future.
Final thoughts -- Add any information or comments about your candidacy.
Thank you so much for this opportunity! I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of filing for and learning to campaign for a position in village government and have met some very passionate fellow candidates along the way. I believe that BG is extremely lucky to have nine people who are willing to put in the time and effort to help it grow and continue to thrive and there are many excellent choices! I think it comes down to what the citizens of our village want. Do we want a new, fresh, upbeat perspective to move in to modernizing a little bit, or do we like where we are at?