Meet the Candidate: Mike Terson

This is the fifth and final installment 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's name

Mike Terson

How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove?

This time around, 16 years.

Please provide brief biographical information.

I am a graduate of Buffalo Grove High School, Harper College (inducted into Harper College’s Distinguished Alumni in 2013) and Northern Illinois University, with a degree in communications. I have worked as the head of Buffalo Grove Park District’s marketing department since 2004. I also worked for Walter Payton for 7 years; and, I am the former public address announcer for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Wolves.

Are you affiliated with any political party? If so, to what extent are you being supported by that party?

I am not affiliated with any political party. If people would like to get an idea of how I lean politically, I am a fiscal conservative, and a social liberal. Some of the people I have voted for in my life include Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, John Kasich and Joe Biden. I find it problematic that party politics are starting to infiltrate our local elections that are supposed to be nonpartisan.

What civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?

I currently serve on the board for the Lake County Youth Empowerment for Success Coalition and the College of Lake County Southlake Campus Advisory Board. I have also served on the Board for the Link Together Coalition. I currently volunteer in Harper College’s mentoring program, and as a coach/mentor with the One Million Degrees program, also at Harper College; and, I volunteer with the Buffalo Grove High School Parents Association, currently setting up their restaurant fundraisers.

Why are you running for the Village Board?

In 2019, I recommitted myself to being the kind of leader I think our community wants and needs, and ran for Village President. And, while it was ultimately an unsuccessful bid (falling 150 votes short), there were a lot of successes that came out of that campaign. Within a year, my opponent and critics implemented some of the very economic development strategies on which they campaigned against me. I plan on running for Village President again in 2023, and making up those 150 votes. But, my first step of that plan is to first return to the Village Board as a trustee this year, so I can go into that role with the benefit of being involved in our community’s issues for the two years leading up to 2023, rather than just sitting on the sidelines and waiting to get started on that work.

Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve and in what capacity?

I have been involved with the Village in various capacities since 2005. I served on the Village’s 50th Anniversary Committee from 2005 through 2008, the Bike Committee (I think around 2007-08), and I was a Village Trustee from 2011 - 2015.

How well do you think the Village has responded to the pandemic? Please explain your answer.

I think our town did an excellent job; and, not just the Village, but all of our local units of government. But, specifically to the Village, I thought they did an excellent job of pivoting in how they made services available to the community. One example was when they installed a walk up window at Village Hall, so that people could conduct business without having to walk into the building. I also think all of our public entities handled things appropriately when employees were diagnosed with COVID-19.

What ideas to you have to support businesses in Buffalo Grove that are suffering because of the pandemic?

In the short term, I think we can defer certain fees until things get back to normal and business picks up again. But, there were measures being suggested by some of the people on our Village Board that are completely inappropriate; and, frankly, it makes me question whether or not those individuals can be trusted with being the stewards of our community’s finances. To be clear, any kind of economic stimulus or relief (for businesses or individuals) is the role of the state and federal government, not local municipalities. And, as much as I value and appreciate our business owners (I too am friends with many of them), I don’t understand how anyone on our Village Board can prioritize the financial struggles of businesses during a pandemic over those of our residents, many of whom have lost their job. If we are not going to discuss holding off on collecting residential taxes and fees in the context of people struggling financially, I don’t see how we can do it with businesses, let alone restaurants only. Every level of government has a lane; and, when it comes to local government, financially supporting certain private businesses that might be struggling is not their lane. It simply is not appropriate to use the community’s money to subsidize private businesses.

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 Corridor should be the priority, because it has the potential to have the biggest impact. It also has the potential to have impact on the other corridors – especially the Dundee Road corridor. Currently, we have some on our Board who campaigned on never developing the golf course, or never implementing tax increment financing (TIF districts), which has left us with the kind of planning that is more of a political compromise than an actual effort to redevelop aging and dilapidated properties. The Lake Cook Corridor plan was adopted in 2018, yet there still haven’t been any changes. And, I know there’s talk of Town Center getting redeveloped; however, there’s been talk of that for years. At this point, I fear that we are so desperate for something, that we will end up with a project that will be just another shopping center, rather than something that can tie into an actual downtown, which would maximize the long term potential for that property, and not just something that is better than the eyesore it has been for decades. In short, I think the moves we are making with the Lake Cook Corridor are checkers moves, when what we really need to be playing is chess.

Do you think the village should continue using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to entice economic development?

Short answer, yes; however, TIF isn’t a one size fits all solution. So, we should continue to consider TIFs; however, we need to go through that process carefully and strategically. But, with communities around us competing with us for economic development, we absolutely need to be able to utilize the same mechanisms they have, and be competing on an even playing field.

How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?

By creating a central business district that will spark redevelopment of other nearby properties that want to take advantage of that opportunity. I think that a downtown dining and entertainment district, that is situated within over 60 acres of walkable open space can completely change the commercial landscape of Buffalo Grove.

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?

I think the Engage BG initiative is an excellent start. But, what I think we as elected officials could and should do is stop expecting our constituents to just come to us to have conversations at Village Hall, or at public hearings and meetings, and instead start going out into the different areas of the community and bringing that dialogue to people in their neighborhoods. It is through those conversations that we will not only recruit people to get involved with the Village, but we will also do it in a way that will foster the kind of diversity we say we are looking to accomplish. If elected, I plan on doing exactly that.

Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?

I think that one of the areas that Village excels in is communication. I also think that the Village does a great job of adapting and evolving as communication platforms change over time. Just this past month, I was able to inform the Village of an issue on my street through their website (using my phone), and someone was out there the next morning. As a communications professional myself, I would look forward to working with the Village’s team, and constantly looking to provide the community with new and innovative ways to inform residents, as well as make it easy for them to communicate with the Village.


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