Kristina Gabrenya: Candidate profile
Name: Kristina Gabrenya
Office sought: Village Trustee
Family: Husband, Bill Gabrenya, Assistant Chief Bartlett Fire Protection District; Daughter Grace, age 10, Grade 5, Bartlett Elementary School; Son Lucas, age 5, Pre-K
Occupation: Doctor of Optometry; Owner Bartlett Vision
Education: Doctor of Optometry; Fellow American Academy of Optometry
• Rotary Club of Bartlett 2012 to present, member, past president, current treasurer;
• Bartlett Lions Club,member, past board of directors, creator/chairperson/race director Bartlett Lions Labor Day Dash 2005-2015;
• Bartlett Chamber of Commerce, 2005 to present, member, past board of directors;
• Bartlett Park District, Volunteer Soccer Coach, 2013 to present
Previous elected offices held: Trustee, Village of Bartlett, May 2017 to present
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? Yes, appointed to position as Trustee, Village of Bartlett in May 2017
What are the most important issues facing your community and how do you intend to address them?
There are several important issues facing our community. The first is enhancing resident life and enhancing services in order to provide residents with an environment that is conducive to the healthy, productive lives that they wish for themselves and their families. The next is to acknowledge and attempt to minimize the financial burden on families as much as possible while still providing an acceptable level of service. Third, in a world that may sometimes feel unpredictable it is our role to continue to provide the same or even greater level of safety that our residents have come to know. And lastly, in our fast-paced society I believe that it has become increasingly important for us as a village to inspire a sense of community among our residents. We can do this by continuing to communicate with our residents through all different avenues as well as by working with other government agencies and community organizations to enhance the cohesiveness of our village as a whole.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I am uniquely qualified for the role of village trustee. I have a sincere appreciation for our past, a thorough understanding of our present, and a solid vision for our future. Born and raised in Bartlett, I have had a front row seat to the phenomenal growth that our town has had and was influenced from a young age to always give back to my community. I have been an active volunteer and held leadership roles in many community and civic organizations including Bartlett Rotary, Bartlett Lions Club, Bartlett Chamber of Commerce and as a coach for the Bartlett Park District.
Having started and grown a business in Bartlett, I have a distinctive commitment to the economic security of our village. The financial skills and understanding that allowed me to manage my business to survive, even through the pressures of the economic downturn, will serve my fellow residents well in discussing the financial burdens that face our village and our residents. Through my work, my family, and my volunteerism I am able to truly connect with residents each and every day. These are what make me the best candidate for Village Trustee.
Describe your leadership style and explain how you think that will be effective in producing actions and decisions with your village board.
In an academic sense, there are as many definitions of leadership style as there are leaders and it would be difficult to label myself as possessing a single, specific leadership style. I would say that I possess the approachability and empathetic nature of a Supportive leader, with the willingness to work shoulder to shoulder with my team as a Participative leader. I embody the principals of goal-setting expected in an Achievement-Oriented leader, while establishing vision and forward-thinking as a Transformational leader. Even with all of these academic definitions though, what weaves its way through and what truly sets me apart is my commitment to being relationship oriented in every aspect of leadership and in every aspect of my life. From patient care to coaching to being a mom to leading in civic organizations to serving as a village trustee I am committed to creating relationships, to understanding people's needs, and to working to help meet those needs the best I can. This is how I was built. It is how I have been able to lead in my business, to meet the needs of my patients, and will help me to continue to serve the residents of Bartlett.
How would you describe the condition of your community's budget, and what are the most important specific actions the town should take to assure providing the level of services people want?
Creating, maintaining and monitoring a budget is a critical enterprise for any business or organization, but it has been exceptionally challenging for local governments given the financial condition of our state. Unfunded mandates from downstate put undue burden on villages and the change in the local government distribution fund (LGDF) has had a profound impact on our budget in the past two years. This creates a challenge for the village; it is our task to ensure that we are not increasing the burden on the residents unduly, while still providing the level of services our residents expect and deserve. This is done by committing to a conservative budget that minimizes waste and by continuing to drive economic development to help fund the budget through economic diversity. The Village Board and staff have worked diligently year after year to create a budget that keeps our residents safe and meets the needs of the community, while attempting to maintain a stable level of responsibility on the residents through a flat village tax levy for many years.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Basic business economics involves increasing revenue and decreasing costs in order to improve an organization's financial picture. It might be worthwhile to explore the possibility of decreasing costs through shared services with other local agencies and organizations that have been similarly squeezed by downstate budget demands.
At the same time, I believe we should continue to enhance our economic development and economic diversity. However, I think we should explore the possibility of a more strategic and intentional approach and it should include the entire village. We would ask, what specifically are our residents leaving town to buy or do? Concurrently, we would explore what land areas of our village are un-developed or under-developed? Next, can we as a village board, economic development commission and staff develop a plan which marries the needs of residents with the areas available in order to attract specific types of business development into specific locations? And can we then go out and court specific businesses to fill the needs we have identified in the locations we have optimized with purposeful marketing packages which allow our targeted businesses to "see themselves" in Bartlett? Perhaps?