.

Wilmette Village President Candidate Profile: Bob Bielinski

Learn more about Wilmette Village President candidate Bob Bielinski's plan for Wilmette.

Name: Bob Bielinski

Age: 46

Family: Wife of 16 years, Terri.  Two children in District 39 schools.

Past Experience:  24+ years of business experience in a variety of roles including serving as a financial executive in the restaurant and retail industries, managing bond financings for state and local governments, and currently, leading the restaurant industry practice for a financial firm that focuses on small and middle market businesses

Past Local Government/Elected Positions:  current Wilmette Village Trustee, Chairman of the Finance Committee

What do you think the biggest issue facing Wilmette today is, and how do you plan on fixing it?

The headline of a recent newspaper interview of Tim Frenzer, Wilmette’s Village Manager, stated that “Wilmette’s biggest hurdles are economic.”  I agree that the primary challenges facing municipalities today are financial in nature, and my financial expertise makes me the right leader for the times for Wilmette.

The Village should always be looking for opportunities to improve its financial situation which do not rely on increasing residents’ tax burden.  Wilmette should continue to manage its budget and debt, push for reform in Springfield and expand its tax base through economic development.

Wilmette should continue to provide municipal services to its residents in a cost effective and efficient manner.  In recent years, the Village has successfully maintained service quality while managing expenses, thereby limiting the need for tax increases.

In 2011, as Chairman of the Village Board's Finance Committee, I suggested and helped guide a restructuring of the Village's water and sewer debt which resulted in:  nearly $800,000 of economic savings, cash flow savings of $3.6 million through 2016 to fund needed capital improvements, and no increase in residents' water or sewer rates in 2012 and 2013 for the first time since 2001.

Under Chris Canning’s leadership, Wilmette has been an advocate in Springfield for common sense reforms which would reduce local government operating costs, and the Village should continue to support efforts by the Northwest Municipal Conference and other groups to enact meaningful legislation.

Expanding the Village’s tax base lessens its reliance on residents’ property taxes to fund operations, and an accommodating, but still thoughtful, approach to economic development is critical to these efforts.  Wilmette's Village President should encourage economic development throughout the Village, but especially downtown.  My vision for downtown includes hosting enough alternatives for dining, shopping and entertainment that residents, confident in their ability to find something to do, do not have to identify a specific destination before saying, “Let’s go downtown.”

Downtown development will not be implemented directly by the Village, but rather the aspirations of real estate developers and private property owners will determine its direction.  As a result, if the Village wants to encourage development, it will need to be flexible and open to a variety of different approaches.

What sets you apart from the other Wilmette Village President candidate, Mike Basil?

My experience, my views on downtown development and my leadership style make me the better choice for Wilmette Village President.

I have earned the endorsements of two former Village Presidents and two former Village Managers.  These former village officials, with a combined 61 years of dedicated service to Wilmette, are confident that I am the right leader to tackle the issues we currently face in our village.

I have been endorsed by:

Nancy Canafax, 2-term Village President (‘97 – ‘05), 2-term Village Trustee (‘85 – ‘93)

Vern Squires, 2-term Village President (‘81 – ‘89), 2-term Village Trustee (‘75 – ‘81)

Heidi Voorhees, 11-year Village Manager (‘90 – ‘01), 4-year Asst Village Manager (‘86 – ‘90)

Stan Kennedy, 16-year Village Manager (‘74 – ‘90)

Right Leader for the Times

Because the primary challenges facing municipalities today are financial in nature, my financial expertise makes me the right leader for the times for Wilmette.

In addition, my experience as an executive of retail and restaurant companies makes me well suited to champion downtown development efforts.

As a Trustee, I have demonstrated the commitment necessary to lead the Village Board, and my leadership of the Finance Committee has saved residents money and halted increases in water/sewer rates for the first time since 2001.

The Difference on Downtown Development

My opponent recently reaffirmed his support for a stand-alone CVS pharmacy on the old Ford site at 611 Green Bay Road. (Chicago Tribune, 3/5/13; League of Women Voters Candidates Forum, 3/17/13)

I disagree.  I believe Wilmette can do better than just another pharmacy by using the Village Center Master Plan to encourage development that will attract people to our downtown.

Balanced Approach

I will continue to always look for balanced, practical, common sense solutions which serve the best interests of the entire community.  If elected, I will lead with the courtesy and civility which are hallmarks of Wilmette village government.

What do you plan to do during your term as Wilmette Village President?

Wilmette’s Village President’s primary focus should be keeping Wilmette a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.  This goal requires a commitment to revitalization and change without sacrificing the character of our exceptional community.

The Village Center is the current focus for renewal, and I enthusiastically support these efforts.  An accommodating, but still thoughtful, approach to economic development is critical, and I will work to encourage economic development throughout the Village.  With regards to downtown development, I believe that the spirit of the Village Center Master Plan should guide major downtown development projects.  By communicating the vision of the Master Plan, the Village has encouraged proposals from developers, such as the recently announced, proposed redevelopment of the old Ford property at 611 Green Bay Road.

Special attention should be placed on two significant economic development projects which are underway -- the construction of a new hotel near the Edens Expressway as well as the redevelopment of 611 Green Bay Road -- to ensure their successful completion.

Wilmette's Village President should also pay attention to the Village's primary mission of delivering municipal services in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible.  The Village should continue to provide the level of service which its residents currently enjoy, and I will ensure that the Village's limited resources concentrate on these core responsibilities.  Increasing efficiency of operations, improving service quality and reducing overall costs will be my main priorities.

How do you address resident’s concern about revitalizing the downtown district and the closing of many local businesses?

Simply put, it should be easy to open a new business in Wilmette.  The Village must constantly be mindful of the obstacles it places in the way of real estate developers and small business owners, and I will continue to support efforts to streamline and simplify the Village’s demands on small businesses.

An accommodating, but still thoughtful, approach to economic development is critical.  Regulatory relief, like the zoning variances granted to Illinois Bone and Joint when they relocated to Green Bay Road, can be provided without financial cost to residents.

With regards to the revitalization of downtown, I believe that major downtown development projects should be consistent with the spirit of the Village Center Master Plan.

The Village Center Master Plan was developed over the course of a year with significant input from the community, and as such, the Master Plan is our community's shared vision of the future of downtown Wilmette.  By communicating this vision, the Village has removed uncertainty from the development process and encouraged proposals.

My opponent recently reaffirmed his support for a stand-alone CVS pharmacy on the old Ford site at 611 Green Bay Road. (Chicago Tribune, 3/5/13; League of Women Voters Candidates Forum, 3/17/13)

I disagree and believe Wilmette can do better than just another pharmacy by using the Village Center Master Plan to encourage development that will attract people to our downtown.

After all the time and effort to develop and adopt the Village Center Master Plan, which calls for vibrant mixed use development, why would we ignore it?

The residents of Wilmette expect their elected officials to pay attention to the vision of the Master Plan; residents want us to be mindful of the big picture.

To that end, the Village recently entered into an agreement with Lexington Homes to redevelop 611 Green Bay Road with a multi-story mixed use development including retail and apartments.  This agreement validates the Village Center Master Plan and its vision of the future.

The proposed development is an exact fit to the Master Plan and is far superior to the stand-alone CVS pharmacy that was proposed in 2010.

Anything else you want to add?

Learn more at www.BobForWilmette.com.

I also want to encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote.  Early voting continues daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Centennial Ice Rink (2300 Old Glenview Road) through Saturday, April 6th.  Election Day is Tuesday, April 9th.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »