Meet the Candidate: Gregory Pike
Editor's note --This is the fifth 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.Candidate's name:
Village Board Trustee
How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove?
Please provide brief background information.
My wife and I moved to Buffalo Grove in 2010 for the excellent schools, outstanding park district, easy access to transportation and proximity to family members. Together we are raising our three children that attend Pritchett (twins in Kindergarten) and Meridian (one in Pre-K). Managing Director at a large financial institution. Primary responsibilities include credit structuring for both Commercial Banking (focus on medium to publicly traded corporations) and Institutional Markets (focus on municipalities, Not for Profits and hospitals). Education: Miami University - BS in Finance DePaul University - MBA ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking - University of Pennsylvania
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve?
No. However I do cover municipalities and state governments/agencies through my employer.
What other civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
Accion Chicago – Current Chair for both the Board and Executive Committee. Formally Vice Chair of Board and Chaired the Portfolio Review and Lending Committees. Board Member since 2008. Prior Civic involvements include CPS Real Men Read, CPS Principal for a Day, Chase Saturday Scholars (preparing Chicago intercity kids for college).
Why are you running for a Village Board position?
As I see it, our community is in need of the following improvements: · - Economic development with vibrant retail stores and restaurants. · - Infrastructure improvements from delayed capital expenditures: · - Reduced property tax burden on homeowner and businesses · - More financial leadership and a need for fresh ideas at the Trustee level. · - Improved diversity outreach within the community. The demographics of Buffalo Grove continues to evolve and we are lucky to have a mixture of different cultures (ethnic, racial and generational) within the community. Buffalo Grove is in need of Village Trustee who brings a new voice, has a business background, listens to all sides of an issue and can make difficult decisions. I have worked with hundreds of businesses and municipalities across the Midwest to provide financial solutions. We have excellent schools and parks. It’s time we now make Buffalo Grove an exceptional Village through economic development and reduce the tax burden of households and businesses.
In general, what do you see as the most pressing issues facing Buffalo Grove?
Two issues that are intertwined together are economic development (vibrant retail stores and restaurants) and infrastructure improvements from delayed capital expenditures. There is a high likelihood that if these issues are not addressed in the near-term, property tax burden on homeowners and businesses will increase. If done correctly, we can potentially reduce the tax burden on property owners. A good example is Vernon Hills, they have no municipal real estate to fund Village government. It is covered primarily through retail sales taxes.
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 need more retail and commercial property. Our industrial parks are already 95% occupied. In order to reduce the tax burden of property owners and help fund infrastructure projects, Village campus and the Buffalo Grove golf course should be redeveloped. Additionally, we need to continue to work with the owners of Town Center, Chase Plaza and the Rohrman properties to redevelop their properties. All options should be on the table.
Which business development plan do you think should be a priority? Lake-Cook Road corridor, Dundee Road, Milwaukee Avenue or the Prairie View concept?
Short answer is all of them. All options should be on the table. If we really want to reduce the tax burden on property owners and to help fund infrastructure projects, then we need to address all phases in the Lake-Cook Road Corridor study.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
Absolutely. As a Village we should never shop the encouragement of redevelopment of private property. The Village should also consider reducing regulations and be more receptive to new business wanting to relocate to Buffalo Grove.
Should the village limit development to preserve green space?
Every effort should be made to preserve green space. However, some of the existing green space is limited to the public and is costing property taxpayers. For example, the Buffalo Grove Golf Course could be better utilized by residences if there is an economically feasible plan to redevelop the property. Right now, the property is surrounded by a fence, you need to pay money to fully use the property and it's seasonal. Additionally, it is rare for a Village the size of Buffalo Grove to even have one golf course. I personally enjoy golf, but the industry continues to shrink. Let’s dedicate our limited resources to Arboretum 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?
I support diversity outreach within the community. The demographics of Buffalo Grove continues to evolve and we are lucky to have a mixture of different cultures (ethnic, racial and generational) within the community. It needs to be a priority of the Trustees and Village government to engage the different demographics within the community for better representation on the various boards, commissions and volunteer events. I've already started the engagement with the Asian community with Soojae Lee. I attended the Asian American Coalition of Chicago on February 23rd and several Korean American events. Although this is a start, more needs to be done once I become Trustee. We need active participation from other cultures such as Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Hispanic, Russian and Eastern European communities.
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.
No. The Board has given minimal direction to the Village Manager regarding what exactly is needed. The job description keeps changing and there is a potential that additional costs tied to technology would likely be needed. Basically, it's time more Trustees and the Village President actively reach out and engage other cultures in our Village. There has been a long history of appointing people with non-diverse backgrounds to fill vacancies on the board, commissions and committees. This needs to stop.
Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
It's getting better, but much more needs to be done from the board (Village President and Trustees) to Village staff. We need to be better at engaging residents. For example, I have discussed with several of the new candidates to have frequent coffee sessions with residence and to actively engage religious/community organizations. Reporters also would be invited.
Final thoughts -- Add any information or comments about your candidacy.
I’m a proven leader with a fresh perspective, new voice and personal drive to help make Buffalo Grove an exceptional village. Additionally, I have the following attributes:
• Understanding on how to promote economic development and reduce the tax burden on existing property owners and businesses.
• Experience working with numerous municipalities to finance complex projects, which includes bond financing.
• History with finding financial solutions to enable building expansions and physical relocations for small to publicly traded businesses
• Ability to thoroughly review Village financial operations, identify “real costs” tied to projects and look for ways reduce regulations.
• Great listener