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updated: 3/13/2013 9:03 PM

Lael Miller: Candidate Profile

East Dundee Village President (4-year Term)

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  • Lael Miller, running for East Dundee Village President (4-year Term)

    Lael Miller, running for East Dundee Village President (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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: East Dundee


Office sought: East Dundee Village President (4-year Term)

Age: 53

Family: Wife Connie, sons Gene and James

Occupation: Real Estate Broker

Education: Candidate did not respond.

Civic involvement: Planning and Zoning Commissioner 2007-2009

Elected offices held: Village of East Dundee Trustee - 2009 - present

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Economic Development With the announcement that WalMart will be leaving (again), the Village found itself in the position of losing a large source of sales tax revenue. Since taking office I have focused on replacing that revenue by bringing in additional businesses and developments. I do not ever want the Village to be in the situation again where one business leaving town can cause such economic uncertainty. In both the short and long term, we need to grow our business community to the point where it is diverse and stable, so that we do not need to pass along any rising costs or fees to the residents, as many of our neighboring communities have been forced to do. I have worked with the board to bring companies such as Tovar Snow Professionals and Made to Measure, whom have moved office workers and engineering staff to the Village, and 7 Hills Medical, who will be operating a lucrative pharmacy in town, as well as the annexation of GAT Guns. These represent a different thought process as to what type of businesses we can and should attract. We need to retain our focus and sense of urgency and continue to attract quality businesses and jobs. I believe that if we do this correctly we can guarantee that East Dundee will be financially stable for the long term and we can provide better services at less cost to residents.

Key Issue 2

New projects and infrastructure. With the approval of the Fire Station Referendum, we have a plan that is critical to the future of public safety in the Village. A new Fire Station will be built on Rte 25, and we will be renovating the current Fire Station as a Police Station. This project calls for attention to detail, cost containment, and project management, all areas I have vast experience in. With the Downtown Redevelopment Plan, a multi year project that will effect the future of our downtown for generations, decisions need to be made going forward that will determine the success of the project. Working with the planners, developers and staff to ensure that Village resources and capital are spent wisely is of the greatest concern to me. I have the strongest skill set and the experience to lead the Village forward in all of these developments, and to position us for the future. We only get one chance to do projects like these right.

Key Issue 3

Attention to Details I have been vocal regarding the Villages lapses in contract bidding. We just recently bid out our waste hauling contract after 10 years and saved money. We recently bid out our auditing services after over 10 years. We have had multiple contracts in the last several years that have not been bid out because we have lost track of time and it was urgent that we continue services, possibly at a higher cost to the taxpayer. I have voted against late contracts for that reason. I will make certain all contracts are bid and in a timely manner. We have people on our commissions that have not been re-appointed or replaced on a timely basis. We have a Village Manager that was in an interim capacity for over a year because his contract was not negotiated or renewed. We have a Police Chief who has gone without a contract for four years. Our Village Newsletter has not gone out in over a year, and many of our meetings are not taped for public access. While seemingly trivial, these are an important means of communications with our residents that should not be overlooked. These are indications that we need to pay more attention to details. This position has both a strategic and a tactical requirement; to be able to see the big picture while also ensuring the day to day functions of the Village are carried out, and I have a proven track record of success in managing large diverse operations.

Questions & Answers

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

My background in Customer Service Management taught me to treat people fairly, keep your promises, exceed peoples expectations, that there are usually three sides to every story, that listening is more important than speaking, and to solve the problem and not the symptoms. My background as an IT Director taught me to manage multiple critical high-visibilty projects on time and under budget at the same time. My background in Commercial Real Estate taught me to negotiate the best deals, and to understand where compromise and common ground can be found while keeping focus on what is the ultimate goal. My time as a Village Trustee has taught me that even though we are all individuals with different backgrounds, if we take the time to really listen to each others concerns and viewpoints, we can usually reach a consensus that allows us to move forward and accomplish what is best for the Village. At some point we all disagree, but it's how you handle that disagreement that makes or breaks you as a team. I know how to build teams of diverse personalities. I have a proven record of managing company departments with more people and larger budgets than this Village has, and have done it successfully for years. I come from a family that has always done public service, and was taught from an early age how important is was to give back to the community. I do not feel entitled to this position; rather, that is an honor to serve and I approach this position with great humility. I understand that it takes a great many people working together to achieve the results we want as a Village. My agenda is only to serve the people of East Dundee; to keep the things we all love about this town, and to change just the things that need to be changed. We need to keep our character, what makes this Village great, and yet we need to manage change, for if we do not, change will still come. I believe that I shown that I have the skills to manage our finances responsibly, to treat our residents and businesses fairly and equally, and to show a path for growth and stability that makes sense. I have shown that I can reach consensus with other board members and move issues forward, and that I have not just a vision but a plan. I have brought new ideas and leadership to the board that have helped us put us in a better position now and going forward.

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.

What we need is not higher taxes or rates, but a broader, more diverse group of businesses that provide sales tax revenue to the Village. I certainly would not be in favor of raising the local sales tax; the economy will continue to improve and strengthen and raising local taxes would only slow that progress.

Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.

I want to continue to address possible flooding issues in residential areas. We have put in place one half of a water retention plan to mitigate the issue, but half remains. I will see that that gets addressed and budgeted. I am concerned about fire safety in the Lakewood Estates and Council Hills areas, and am working with the board to address the cost of providing water lines for both fire hydrants and drinking water to those neighborhoods, as there are 70 homes with neither. Additionally, there is a lot of concern regarding two projects in town, River Haven subdivision and Insurance Auto Auctions. River Haven has been described by some residents as a "Section 8" housing development, that will lure all the worst elements in to town. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are top quality rental housing units that fill a gap in our community housing needs. They are well managed, and will be an asset to the Village. While "affordable" housing may have a bad connotation in some people's minds, I can assure people that these units will change your perception of what this concept means. This will be a family neighborhood just like any other in town. There is also a great concern over Illinois Insurance Auctions moving to an industrial area in the Cook County portion of East Dundee. The greatest concern to the Village Board is to have this built in a way that CANNOT pollute the Village or it's neighbors. In that regard, we have worked with multiple engineering firms as well as the IEPA to ensure that if the property is built, it is built to standards that will not pollute the ground or the groundwater. There has been a lot of misinformation being spread regarding what this facility is, but it is, basically, a parking lot. I can assure you that the Village is taking every precaution to ensure our safety now and in the future.

In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?

Sales tax is up, TIF and BDD funds are up, and total revenue year over year is up. Revenues were $595,457 higher than expenses for the last year according to the independent auditors report, and next year's projections are higher still. Factoring in WalMart leaving sometime in the next year, we will still be in good condition, and we will have a running year of multiple new businesses and revenue streams to the Village to run side by side with current data to determine just how successful we've been. The revenue from Thorntons and GAT Guns alone are close to replacing what we would lose from WalMart's leaving. Having said that, we will still be losing WalMart's revenue, and we need to plan appropriately for that loss. I approach every budget the same, that all costs are on the table, and there are no sacred cows. Our Public Safety costs run over $2m per year, which is a considerable percentage of our operating costs, as is Sewer and Water. We need to look hard at these costs, as we do every year. These are the most essential service we provide to residents, but also the most costly. Our focus on economic development over the last several years puts us in a unique position in that we do not have to raise taxes and fees to residents and that we can continue to fund infrastructure and development projects. I am confident that we will have a tough yet fair budget that reflects our successes and positions us securely for the future. There are no areas that we do not fund adequately.

What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?

When elected, I will work to form a regional development group with the Mayors of our surrounding communities to strengthen our ties and to approach issues with a combined capability. We each tend to work as islands, competing against each other with no regional coordination. We are part of a regional metro area, and we can improve our own fortunes by making the whole region stronger. Having attended the Metro West drive to Springfield for many years, I know the power that having a room full of Mayors has on shaping the legislative priorities of our representatives. Of course, I would like to include a "no poaching" clause on big box stores, but right now there is no format in which to work and no incentive regionally to work together. We should work on economic development, transportation, legislative issues, and more. The Northwest Municipal Conference has cooperative purchasing plans to drive down shared costs, and the Barrington Council of Governments has done a great job of adopting a legislative platform that addresses the shared needs of their communities, as just two examples. If we can drive economic growth regionally and cut costs, we all win.