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updated: 2/22/2013 6:33 PM

Karen Mills: Candidate Profile

Hoffman Estates Village Board (4-year Terms) (Independent)

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  • Karen Mills, running for Hoffman Estates Village Board (4-year Terms)

    Karen Mills, running for Hoffman Estates Village Board (4-year Terms)




Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Hoffman Estates

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Hoffman Estates Village Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 62

Family: Married for almost 40 years to Glenn; 3 children (Rich, Heather & Laura) and 4 grandchildren (Kaitlynn, 5 yrs., Camryn & Carter 3 yr. twins, and Evan 2 years)

Occupation: Property Manager in Hoffman Estates for 31 years. State licensed Community Association Manager.

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree in Primary Education, Loyola University, Chicago, 1972.

Civic involvement: Member of the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce; (recently finished my term as treasurer and previously have served as secretary and Vice-Chairman) Trustee for the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District, Wheeling. Active member of St. Hubert's Catholic Church, Hoffman Estates and volunteer as a Eucharistic Minister.

Elected offices held: Village Trustee for Hoffman Estates since 1992 (was actually appointed in 1992 and elected in 1993. Currently serving as Chair of the Planning, Building and Zoning Committee and have served as past Chair of Finance, Public Works, Public Safety and General Administration and Personnel. Also served as Deputy Village President from 2001-2007. Have also co-chaired Comprehensive Plan Commission, the Barrington Square Center Redevelopment Committee, Storm Water Management Committee and the Capital Improvements Board. Previous to serving on the Board, I chaired and was a member of the Hoffman Estates Plan Commission for 7 years (1985-92).

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Continued emphasis on economic development both for the remaining open parcels in town and redevelopment of our aging centers in the older parts of town. I feel that with my many years of experience working with developers both as a Trustee and previously as a Plan Commissioner, I have the knowledge and professionalism to provide better insight as we work to develop these areas which in many cases are parcels that are not easily developed due to various constraints.

Key Issue 2

Continue to monitor what Springfield is doing in order to protect the Village's assets. We must persevere to work with our representatives and senators to insure that they do not cause adverse effects to our budgets. We have to work within the limits of what we can afford, which has become extremely limiting over the past years. We must do what we can to insure that Springfield does not put their burdens on our backs especially in the form of unfunded mandates and the take away of funds such as the Local Government Distributive Fund. We must work together to provide needed services for all residents.

Key Issue 3

Continue to work with staff and the Board to provide a workable budget which is not always an easy thing to do given the economic conditions we have faced these last few years. My experience not only as past chair of the Finance Committee and Capital Improvements Board but also as a property manager who has to provide and oversee a multi-million dollar budget for my community has given me the insight to face the hard decisions. Managing a large scale homeowners' community has many similarities, albeit on a much smaller scale, to running a town. I have to be able to deal with hundreds of residents on a day to day basis, provide services, face problems, enforce rules that are not always to everyones liking and keep it within a budget set by my Board. And at all times, preserve and protect the values of my residents' investment and well being. Our goal through budgeting is to insure the health, safety and welfare of all residents. At times that means making the hard and unpleasant decisions.

Questions & Answers

Which areas of the village are you making it a priority to develop in the next four years and with what type of businesses specifically?

The obvious answer would be that the western portion of our town should be a priority as it has the majority of our remaining open space. Also, this is the area that needs attention in order to provide the services that the newer residents are looking for. Our western area is in need of additional day to day services. However we cannot ignore our older sections of town. I feel that it is equally important that we continue to help our various centers in the southern and northern sections of town revitalize in order to attract business. As to type of business, that is not an easy answer given that the harsh economy will dictate what is available rather than the Board looking at specific types. However, I will not just compromise to fill a site. I want to be sure that it will be a good fit for our town and our residents. Ideally I would like to see a hardware store come to our town as we no longer have one within our village limits. I would like to see more retail out west such as a grocer, cleaners, gas station, the normal day-to-day businesses we all take for granted as the western area residents usually have to go a distance to find those types of businesses. But in talking to developers it always comes back to the need for additional "rooftops" in order to get their attention. And we all know that the new housing market has not yet begun to rise from the ashes of the recession. Will we need to bring in additional housing out west in order to get the retail? Only time will tell. I also feel it is crucial that we support staff's efforts in reaching out to developers and businesses through various organizations including the various ICSC (International Conference of Shopping Centers) conferences. We have had tremendous success with that type of participation and I feel it needs to continue.

Are there changes you would propose regarding the multi-village Fourth of July celebration at the Sears Centre?

Last year was the first year of not only a combined celebration but also a new location for our own residents so naturally there were a few rough spots that needed to be smoothed out. In addition it was an extremely hot holiday weekend which led to additional issues. In my mind the biggest issue was probably the traffic problems faced by many, including myself, on the actual July 4th. We not only had officers from other jurisdictions possibly unfamiliar with the site layout but roadway buckling on Higgins Road due to the heat conditions and a much bigger turnout that any expected. I have recommended that the committee look into the feasibility of possibly running charter buses from various overflow locations in all the towns participating in order to cut down on the number of cars coming on site. They could possibly give priority traffic lanes to the buses and priority parking to entice people to take that form of transporation. Some residents might be even willing to pay a nomimal fee of a dollar or two to help offset that cost if it is going to save them time and the aggrevation of trying to get in and out. We also need to better regulate where people are parking. This was another instance where issues came up due to the new location. We must always keep ingress and egress at a level where everyone's safety is insured. Another suggestion would be to have more of the food and beverage booths closer and more convenient to the entertainment stage. Minor things such as shutting down the rides during the fireworks and dimming some of the non-essential lights to better highlight the show are the type of issues that normally work out as event takes place year after year. I am happy to see that more events may take place within the Sear Centre itself such as the Craft Show. We have a wonderful facility right there in the midst of the festival grounds that can truly become a show piece for the event.

Is the Sears Centre performing up to residents' expectations? If yes, do you support any changes going forward. If no, what specifically should the village be doing (or stop doing) to improve it?

That depends on who you talk to. Many residents equate multiple shows to best use. They tend to think that an empty facility means that it is not being used correctly. However we have to all come to understand that a full schedule is not always that easy to accomplish and does not always spell success. Are we better off trying to take on shows that will not break even just to say that we have events taking place or do we better serve the residents by booking events that will at least bring in a profit to offset the operating costs even though it is not being used continuously. And if you look at other Chicagoland facilities, they have many dark nights, too. I have seen a tremendous improvement since we hired Global Spectrum to manage the facility and am happy to see that its personnel continue to work on bringing in not only shows but other types of events that help that bottom line. We need to continue to work with their management personnel to vigorously look for other uses besides big name shows which tend to go to larger facilities or who want us to take on too much monetary risk. This could be in the form of smaller scale events geared to specific groups, or conferences, large dinners or meetings that could continue to provide income. I am always open to possible changes in the future if it can continue to enhance the Sears Centre and better serve the Village and our residents.

Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of the village's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.

No one want to overburden anyone, residents or local businesses, with taxes. I feel that our 2% local tax is fair given what neighboring towns tax levels are at. Also, we have no control over state and especially county tax levels. This is even more critical to us given our close proximity to Kane County.

What are the village's biggest public safety concerns? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.

I do not think we really have any big public safety concerns specific to Hoffman Estates. We will always face, same as everywhere else, minor crime problems, drug problems, traffic woes, teen problems etc. However I feel that our police department has done an excellent job in keeping crime levels as low as possible. When they become aware of an issue they do not waste time dissecting the problem, they put their action plans to work and handle the situation. The same goes with our other public safety departments. Our fire department is always willing to work to insure our residents' safety through education, drills, and fire prevention. And our public works department is among the best, just ask anyone who have to drive home during a bad snow storm. The comment you will always hear is that you can always tell when you enter Hoffman Estates as the road conditions immediately improve. Given that we have had to cut back around 60 positions in various departments over the past years I feel that at no time have we compromised the health, safety or welfare of any residents. All of our employees have pitched in and worked harder to cover the deficits.