Meet the Candidate: Eric Smith
Editor's note --This is the seventh 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.
Village Board Trustee
How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove?
Please provide brief background information.
I moved to Buffalo Grove in 1988. I established my chiropractic practice here and immediately joined the B.G. Chamber of Commerce and B.G. Rotary Club. I have been a member of both organizations since then and have served on the Board of Directors for each, including as President. My wife Judie and I raised our three children here. My daughter, Alexis, and her husband are raising one of my grandchildren in B.G. Alexis currently serves on the Commission for Residents with Disabilities.
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve?
I have served on many Village committees and commissions. I served on the Board of Health, Appearance Commission, Plan Commission, and as Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. I also served on the Lake Cook Corridor Plan steering committee and the Prairie View Station Plan steering committee. Up until my appointment as Trustee, I have served on these various commission during the entire time I have been a resident of Buffalo Grove.
What other civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
I have been a 30-year member and former President of the Buffalo Grove Chamber of Commerce. I have been a 30-year member and former President of the Buffalo Grove Rotary Club. I am a former volunteer basketball coach in the Buffalo Grove Park District. I have also served on the Jewish Community Center Board of Directors.
Why are you running for a Village Board position?
I am running to retain my current seat on the Village Board because I love this community and I enjoy serving. I am running because I have the experience and qualifications necessary to do the job. I am able to listen to all sides of an issue without predetermined opinion. I am analytical and I research and weigh all information presented to the Board before making a thoughtful decision which will best serve all residents of our Village. I have the experience, leadership, knowledge, and vision necessary to continue to be a successful Trustee.
In general, what do you see as the most pressing issues facing Buffalo Grove?
Our aging infrastructure, including roads, water mains, and Village owned buildings, need to be addressed over the next few years. This ties into keeping our first-rate services at a high level while continuing to keep the Village's portion of the overall tax bill at a relatively low level. We also need to continue attracting and retaining new businesses in our commercial centers, as well as our industrial district.
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?
We should continue to ensure that our industrial district remains at a 95% occupancy rate. The revenue derived from this district is rarely mentioned and under-appreciated. We should also continue to implement the Lake Cook Corridor Plan. We are already starting to see the benefits of this Plan with the redevelopment of the Northwest Community Healthcare property. And of course, the Village should continue to facilitate discussions between potential buyers and owners of the Town Center, Chase Plaza, and Rohrman properties.
Which business development plan do you think should be a priority? Lake-Cook Road corridor, Dundee Road, Milwaukee Avenue or the Prairie View concept?
These are all priorities and are all being addressed on a daily basis by our Economic Development Director, his staff, and the current Board of Trustees. We must continue to try to facilitate deals, attract developers, and retain businesses in all of these areas.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
The Village should continue to facilitate and be proactive in bringing potential buyers and sellers together to redevelop distressed retail areas. We also need to continue to encourage owners to redevelop their properties. We are also already seeing such redevelopments about to take place at Cambridge Commons and at the Northwest Community Healthcare sites.
Should the village limit development to preserve green space?
Green space, open space, and areas where people can gather to shop, have a meal, or just relax are very important. We should continue to try to incorporate such spaces throughout the Village where possible.
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?
Our Village is filled with talented, caring, and dedicated individuals. This is evidenced by the increase in civic engagement and community involvement. We are lucky to have numerous volunteer commissions that are often unknown to many residents and are under-represented by the young, diverse members of our community. I believe we can strengthen our sense of community, encourage social involvement, and provide a well-rounded sense of community to our residents by increasing the advertising, recruiting, and funding support of our community volunteer commissions and programs.
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.
The survey that was conducted by many residents indicates a weakness in community engagement and communication on the part of the Village. Therefore, the concept of this job is a good one. I look forward to the development of a complete and thorough proposal that outlines a job description and qualifications of this position; however, until that is provided, I am unable to justify the expense for our taxpayers.
Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
We have made great strides in the last year to improve our communication with residents. Our new updated website rollout has been received well. I believe we can leverage this updated platform to increase communication and transparency for residents. We can also increase involvement of residents in our diverse array of volunteer commissions utilizing the new website.
Final thoughts -- Add any information or comments about your candidacy.
I am a 30-year Buffalo Grove Rotarian and have always lived by Rotary's motto "Service above Self." I know firsthand the time and commitment necessary to be an effective Trustee and am willing and able to continue to put in the time and effort to effectively serve the residents of our community.