Meet the Candidate: Soojae Lee
Editor's note --This is the third 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 am a private practice attorney with CPA and MBA background. Married to Judy and a father of three children.
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve?
What other civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
I have served as a vice president of the Korean American Association of Chicago and a lay leader of Lakeview Covenant Church.
Why are you running for a Village Board position?
I decided to run for the trustee position to ensure Buffalo Grove is moving in the right direction by making sound financial and policy decisions for the residents, including my family and me. I am raising three young children with my wife and want Buffalo Grove to be the first-class village in the northern suburb.
In general, what do you see as the most pressing issues facing Buffalo Grove?
Buffalo Grove is a diverse and vibrant community that needs economic redevelopment and strategic long-term planning. The surrounding villages and cities are redeveloping and Buffalo Grove cannot fall behind. We need to provide successful retail, dining and entertainment venues for the families of Buffalo Grove and I am in support of redevelopment that includes downtown Buffalo Grove.
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?
In my opinion, the economic development encompassing retail, dining and entertainment venues is a priority. The median income in Buffalo Grove is over $100,000.00 and we should give Buffalo Grove residents an opportunity to enjoy various retail, dining and entertainment options in Buffalo Grove rather than in other surrounding villages. The increase in sales tax revenue will lessen the additional property tax burden on residents.
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 business development plan for Lake-Cook corridor is a top priority because this is the heart of Buffalo Grove where Cook County and Lake County come together. While the other three options listed are certainly important and must be considered, the Lake-Cook corridor development will have much more impact.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
The village should encourage the owners of these properties and business owners to redevelop by providing reasonable tax incentives and business friendly regulations.
Should the village limit development to preserve green space?
Unless the village is nearing threshold for over-development of green space, the village should carefully consider all development proposals that will benefit the village.
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?
First, we need to evaluate these commissions and committees for their purposes and determine the reasons for the decline in membership. Second, we need to empower residents who serve in these volunteer groups. Third, we should encourage broader participation by encouraging younger residents, especially high school students, to get involved with the village business matters.
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.
I do not think we need a separate Community Engagement Director to the village staff. I believe the community engagement responsibility rests on all elected officials and the village staff.
Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
I don’t see any particular problem with the village’s communication with residents. However, providing convenient options for residents to connect with the village should be explored.
Final thoughts -- Add any information or comments about your candidacy.
Along with my background, as the only Asian-American candidate, I will bring diversity and fresh perspective to the Board and represent the growing Asian-American population in Buffalo Grove.