Steve Lentz: Candidate Profile
Mundelein Mayor (4-year Term)
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Steve Lentz, running for Mundelein Mayor (4-year Term)
Steve Lentz, running for Mundelein Mayor (4-year Term)
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.
Office sought: Mundelein Mayor (4-year Term)
Family: Married 26 years to wife, Michelle. Six children.
Occupation: 15 years with OptionVue Systems International, Inc., Libertyville, IL
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Economics, University of California at Los Angeles
Civic involvement: Former President, Mundelein Little League, Inc. Former Board Member, Mundelein Junior Football League (MJFL) 20 years coaching youth baseball and/or football including the last 4 years as Head Coach of the MJFL Big 10 Heavyweights (8th Grade) Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America
Elected offices held: Trustee, Village of Mundelein, 2009-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Community Pride and Competitiveness As Mayor, I will work to raise Mundelein's stature and presence in Lake County so that we attract new businesses, support existing businesses and increase property values for our homeowners. Mundelein benefits from a stable tax base, strong public safety ratings, and a central location in Lake County with development opportunities. Yet, many residents understand that Mundelein suffers from an image problem. As a public figure, our mayor has the opportunity to turn this around. I pledge to take this public presence seriously. I have raised my family in Mundelein and invested thousands of volunteer hours in our community. As Mayor, I will lead our village in providing higher levels of municipal service quality, community pride and quality of life.
Key Issue 2
Business Attraction and Retention Vacant storefronts currently dot our hometown and we should attack this problem with great urgency. My three part plan involves permits, incentives and the EDC Plan. First, streamline the process so that new businesses can receive a permit within just a few days. Time is money and speed is of the essence for many new businesses. Second, we should offer sales tax incentives to attract new businesses and encourage resident businesses to expand and stay in Mundelein. Other Illinois communities offer such incentives with great success. Finally, as Mayor, I will greatly support and participate in the strategic plan of the Economic Development Commission, adopted in December 2012. This detailed and aggressive blueprint for filling vacant storefronts and attracting new businesses is available on the village's website and I am excited to see it implemented.
Key Issue 3
Better Street Conditions Mundelein's worn street conditions require that additional money be allocated to the annual street repair program. My goal is to raise the annual amount from $2 million to at least $3 million per year by continuing cost restriction measures so that increasing sales tax revenue can be applied to this important area. As Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I oversaw development of the upcoming Hawley Street rebuild project and also a 14-phase street rebuild plan for a 600-home neighborhood. As Mayor, these projects will continue and other projects will get added to better our Village's infrastructure and attractiveness for current and future homeowners.
The village is moving ahead with plans for a municipal hub near the train station that would include a village hall, retail space and office space. What is your vision for that area and how would you fund the project?
This project is a huge win for Mundelein. My vision is that the new Village Hall will spur development of the other nearby commercial lots and residential projects as well. Restaurants will move in and Mundelein's night life will be transformed. This new downtown project will help lift Mundelein's stature within Lake County and attract more businesses and homebuyers. TIF revenue, lease income, and earmarked savings mean that we can build the new Village Hall without raising taxes.
Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, an discuss how you think it should be addressed?
Gangs and graffiti could once again take root in Mundelein if the new mayor forces a return of passive and reactive police policies from years past. Previous to Chief Ray Rose, our police department was led down the wrong path. We have progressed so far since then and our community is now safe. It would be a shame to go back. Consequent to this concern, I believe the new mayor and board of trustees should fully support our new police chief and the proactive community based approaches that have been so successful.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed? Conversely, is there something that should be reinstated or have resources directed toward?
The recession forced us to impose painful cost reduction measures. Some village employees lost their jobs, hours were reduced and pay step increases were halted for awhile. Potential pockets of efficiency remain, however, and we should always look to exploit these. In particular, I would pursue cross training more aggressively to save on personnel costs. Also, fuel and energy conservation deserves more attention since we use so much of it. As mentioned earlier, I would seek a higher annual road repair allocation since our roads have so much deferred maintenance.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Some locations in Mundelein are a sight for sore eyes. Better landscaping, lighting or even privately funded public art could be used to spruce things up. These low cost measures would do wonders to improve the look and feel of our hometown.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
Although a little higher than that of our neighbors, our sales tax level has not stopped major retailers from moving into Mundelein, i.e. Target and Walmart. Reducing taxes would decrease revenue and the ability to offer incentives. Increasing taxes would jeopardize our standing in the Lake County retail market. Given our current situation, our present level of local sales taxes is competitive and reasonable.
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