Meet the Candidate: Andrew Stein
This is the fourth in a series of profiles of the five candidates for the three trustee positions on the Buffalo Grove Village Board. All candidates were sent the same questions. The answers are exactly as they were submitted. Profiles are being presented in alphabetical order. Candidate Mike Terson’s profile will be posted tomorrow.
How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove?
We have lived in our home for 33 years, 17 of which have been in Buffalo Grove. Our home was annexed into Buffalo Grove in 2004.
Please provide brief biographical information.
My wife and I moved into our home in 1987 Our home was annexed into Buffalo Grove in 2004. My wife is a substitute teacher in School District 102 and I am a Compliance Principal in the Securities Industry. I earned a BA in Speech and Communications from Northeastern Illinois University and a JD from the Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago Kent College of Law. We have two children in college. I was elected Village Trustee in 2011 and have been re-elected twice. Before becoming a Village Trustee, I served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for six years. More detailed information is included in question number 5.
Are you affiliated with any political party? If so, to what extent are you being supported by that party?
I am running as an Independent Candidate.
What civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
I am currently a Buffalo Grove Village Trustee and serve as Trustee Liaison to the Police and Fire Commission and Buffalo Grove Days Committee. I have previously served as Trustee Liaison to the Commission for Residents with Disabilities, Farmers Market, Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Health.
I have served as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Appearance Review Team, Committee Member to re-write the Sign Code, Chairman of the Citizens Ad Hoc Committee for Off Track Betting, Volunteer for Buddy Baseball, have played in the Buffalo Grove Days Charity Softball Game, graduated from the Citizens Police Academy and participated in Fire Opps 101.
I am a member of and former Executive Board member of the Link Together Drug Coalition, keeping dangerous drugs and alcohol away from children.
I am a Merit Badge Counsellor for Scouts BSA and have served as a Unit Commissioner. I was the award winning Cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 36, Special Events Volunteer for the Wheeling Park District (The Wheeling Park District covers about 700 households in Buffalo Grove, mine included) and a friend of the Vernon Township Food Pantry, collecting food, money and overall raising awareness for those in need.
Why are you running for the Village Board?
I am running for Village Trustee because I want to keep making Buffalo Grove better. I was first elected Village Trustee in 2011. I supported business development as a way of saving our residents money on taxes. I proposed Bringing Woodman’s to Buffalo Grove during that election. I contended that this would spur business development of the Milwaukee Avenue Corridor, bringing more sales tax to Buffalo Grove, and it has. In 2011, there were no sales tax generating businesses in Buffalo Grove at the Milwaukee and Deerfield corners. Now that area has retail, restaurant and services generating millions of dollars in sales tax revenue. It took great efforts by both village staff and elected officials. I supported the development of plans for the Lake Cook Road Corridor, Prairie View and Dundee Road. We are having success, as Lake Cook Road is already seeing a transformation. The Town Center is in the process of re-development and several vacant properties on Dundee Road have plans in the works. There is even more potential for Milwaukee Avenue in the not-too-distant future. I want to be re-elected as Village Trustee to see these plans to fruition. I want to keep Buffalo Grove one of the highest rated suburbs in Illinois and in the United States.
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve and in what capacity?
Before I was elected Trustee, I served as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for six years, a member of the Appearance Review Team for four years, Committee Member to re-write the Sign Code and Chairman of the Citizens Ad Hoc Committee for Off Track Betting for four years.
How well do you think the Village has responded to the pandemic? Please explain your answer.
I am very pleased with Buffalo Grove’s response to controlling the pandemic. I proposed a face covering requirement ahead of the requirement by the Governor, and our Village Board adopted my suggestion. We built a special service window to provide residents with a way to transact business with the Village without the need to enter the building. We encouraged staff to work from home, whenever possible. We sourced alternate supplies of PPE for our employees and for our residents. We partnered with Vernon Township Officials to distribute face masks to our residents. We enacted ordinances designed to slow the spread of Covid-19 and were a community that had one of the lowest infection rates. We followed the science and limited and restricted operations of businesses to protect our residents. The fact is that this disease is transmitted days before symptoms appear. There are too many people that are vulnerable. We need to protect them until this disease can be controlled or eradicated.
What ideas to you have to support businesses in Buffalo Grove that are suffering because of the pandemic?
With the aid of Village Staff, we examined the cost of providing a meaningful level of support to businesses in Buffalo Grove. It would be great if we could provide the money necessary to guarantee that every business in the Village could weather the storm and emerge healthy. The truth is that the Village does not have enough money to do so and we cannot raise taxes on our residents to fund this. However, we did reduce the fees for video gaming and liquor licenses. Financial assistance can best come from the Federal Government and the State. We need to be creative with what we have. I support using Village resources to market businesses in Buffalo Grove. To create a database that is available for all to access on the VBG.org website. The Village has created a site, BG Delivers, which is set to launch on March 17. This will link all businesses in Buffalo Grove so that residents and non-residents can access and learn more about businesses in Buffalo Grove. Businesses can use this site to create messages about themselves as well. We will be promoting this in Enews, the Village website and social media. We will be sending staff out to businesses to see what assistance we can give. We will help all businesses as best as we can.
Which business development plan do you think should be a priority? Lake-Cook Road corridor, Dundee Road, Milwaukee Avenue or the Prairie View concept? Please explain your priorities.
The Lake Cook Road corridor and Dundee Road plans present Buffalo Grove with the opportunity for greatest impact now and need to be top priorities. Each of these is centrally located in Buffalo Grove. There is already movement at the east end of Lake Cook Road, where the BMO Property was. There is development of the NCH property and not just the hospital building. A developer is working on re-developing Town Center and talks are continuing on Chase Plaza. The Purdue University Foundation properties, formerly the Rohrman properties, located on Dundee and Cambridge Commons are also ripe for development. These sites will provide substantial sales tax revenue opportunities. I am willing to explore tax incentives, based upon sharing, with each, in order to support their development. The Milwaukee Avenue corridor began redevelopment with the recruitment of Woodman’s. Businesses wish to be close to successful businesses. This has proven the case here. There are nearly two dozen businesses where there were none just a few years ago. This has generated millions of dollars in tax revenue. There is still plenty of space available as you go north of Deerfield Road. I am willing to explore incentives and other creative ways of financing to further develop this area, including the old landfill in Buffalo Grove. Prairie View will take the greatest challenge, as not all the area is in Buffalo Grove. There needs to be annexation agreements to make this plan happen. I would rather focus on areas that are ready now. I would not give up on Prairie View, I would just make that a lower priority.
Do you think the village should continue using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to entice economic development?
The question of TIF districts is complicated. While they provide a quick method of financing projects, where appropriate, they also pose a dilemma for other taxing bodies that rely on the increments to operate. Buffalo Grove has stood without utilizing TIF districts while neighboring communities have used them to finance projects that have left Buffalo Grove in their shadow. Used responsibly, TIF districts can help in the long term. Buffalo Grove has been transparent in the process to establish a TIF district, including all taxing bodies in the discussions. The TIF district has become integral in the development process and I will support using them in the future to entice economic development.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
There are several retail areas that are struggling. Without naming them, I believe that they are struggling due to short-sighted ownership. I would like to see the Village offer incentives, using tax sharing to re-develop those areas. The Village needs to market the areas to groups that are willing to come in with fresh ideas. I am not precluding current ownership from participating, but I do want to see active participation. I am not in favor of giving things away. I want programs that reward for doing well.
Some of our volunteer groups (commissions, committees) have seen shrinking membership. What would you do to engage the community on a broader scale? Do you think the “Engage BG” initiative is an effective program to get residents involved? What would you do to encourage broader demographic participation?
Engage BG is a nice start to encourage participation in committees and commissions. It is too soon to determine its effectiveness. I was thinking that we could offer a gift card to a local Buffalo Grove business as an incentive to current volunteers for recruiting new volunteers who remain active for the period of a year. I would like to see the Village continue its current process but reach out more to individual portions of the community as well. The Village could set up tables at different functions, like school open houses, fairs and the farmers market to tell people about opportunities for volunteering in the Village.
Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
The Village communicates better now than it used to but can still do better. Reverse 911 provides emergency communications. We have Enews, Facebook, the Village website and Village meetings are live on Facebook. This gives residents the opportunity to interact while the meeting is going on. In spite of this, there are still people who are not reached. Sometimes, the communication has links that are either incorrect or don’t work. We need to address those issues and find better ways to make certain that our residents are getting the information that they need. This is an example of something that we can address by inviting our best qualified residents to help out.