Gregg Kuenster

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Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey the Wednesday Journal sent out to all trustee candidates running in this year's elections. Candidates full, unedited responses are printed. 

Age:       67

Previous elected experience:  Employee Ombudsman University of Illinois 1990-1192

Previous community experience: CFO National Alliance for the Mentally Ill – Oak Park 1998 - 2001

Occupation: CPA Retired Large Corporate Tax Advisor

Education: UIC BA Business Administration, UIC BS Accounting, Kent Law Review – Licensed Certified Public Accountant – Active

 1.            Economic development has been a major focus for the village board in recent years. What should the village board's role be in promoting economic development? What are the best tools for doing so and what else can the village board to help recruit new businesses and maintain the ones already here? 

The taxes are too high (and going much higher) to promote retail.  Beyond general ad/ PR promotion (available to all equally), the village does not have the financial resources to help.  Zoning variances can bring some construction.   I am not for many zoning variences.

 2.            Developments at Lake and Lathrop and Chicago and Harlem, while good for the village's economic and social bottom lines, garnered resident criticism for design, village funds used and more. Do you have an opinion on either of these developments? 

The senior housing at Harlem and Chicago is viable.   It is about as good as we are going to get.  If I lived within 500 feet of the project, I would not be happy.  I would like to see more green space/frontage and more parking.  I would have voted against it because I think it crowds the lot.

Although I know, like and do business with some of the entities at Lake and Lathrop, I feel the proposed structure is … too tall, too big and will crowd the corner.  There is a building 4 to 8 times as large being pitched for Lake Street between Franklin and Park Avenues, I am 100 percent against tearing down the Community Bank Building and erecting up to twenty story box.  I just don't like any idea over three stories.  I don't like building lot line to lot line.  I do not like giving away public easements and public property.  We do not need to be Oak Park.

Large development will not be enough to broaden our tax base.  The property tax increases are already built in.  Residents will be pushed out and property values will relatively decrease no matter what we do with development.  It is a false promise. 

We do not need Lake Street to look anything like Oak Park.  

3.      How would you describe communication in the village and what more, if anything, should the village be doing to engage residents?  

I think the Village does a generally good job.  But I would like to see more transparency with the real time budget, budget projections, development and tax increase proposals.  It is clear to me that the property tax levy, water bills, fees, Red Light Cameras and a sale tax increase are being pitched.  Many tax raises will be adopted regardless of who gets elected.  RF is short of funds.

   4.      How important is it to ensure preservation of River Forest's historic homes? What can the village do to safeguard those homes from demolition? How does the question of property rights play into the equation?  

Although a noble jester, this idea is not even on the table in RF.  Politicians give it lip service but are not in favor.

 5.      The village approved a new tax increment financing (TIF) district along Madison Street last year. Do you support a TIF in the area and how would you describe the village's process for communicating the project to residents? 

I am against any TIF in RF.  The TIF is a secret slush fund to reward a developer to put a few more dollars into apartments.  I say just enforce the zoning.   

6.      What other issues involving village government are important to you, and how do you plan to advocate for them?

Labor contracts are in negotiation currently.  I am Union friendly.  That said, some functions of government need to be subcontracted or more longtime residents will lose their homes quicker.

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Harold Maio  

Posted: March 15th, 2019 1:18 PM

-----National Alliance for the Mentally Ill NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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