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Wilmette Village President Candidate Profile: Mike Basil

Learn more about Wilmette Village President candidate Mike Basil's plan for the Village.

Name: Mike Basil

Age: 44

Family: Married for 18 years with two children in D39 schools

Past Experience: I am a partner in the law firm of Clausen Miller, P.C., with 18 years of experience advising and representing parties in commercial litigation matters.  I also worked in the corporate world for a few years in between undergrad and law school.  I hold an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago, a BA from the University of Michigan, and a JD with honors from St. Louis University.  I have coached my children and their friends in Park District soccer, basketball and baseball, and was active and effective in bringing about change in Wilmette long before I ran for public office.

Past Local Government/Elected Positions: I have been serving Wilmette for 6 years as an elected Village Trustee, I am the current chair of the Administration Committee, and past chair of the Finance Judiciary Committees.

What do you think the biggest issue facing Wilmette today is, and how do you plan on fixing it? Wilmette needs revitalized business districts, and nobody has done more to jump-start local business development in Wilmette than I have.  I brought the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel blue ribbon group of development experts to Wilmette to assess our strengths and opportunities.  I brought the RTA grant of $100,000 to Wilmette to pay for the new downtown Master Plan and created a fast-track incentive to attract development dollars to downtown Wilmette.

A thriving business community is vital because every dollar we collect from sales taxes in Wilmette is a dollar we don't need to collect from residents through the property tax.  When we give people better options to shop locally, we keep our sales tax dollars working for our community instead of exporting those dollars to surrounding cities.  Better business development means residents win with local shopping options, lower property taxes, and an improved vitality of our wonderful town.  I have been leading the way on downtown revitalization, and I would like to continue that job as Village President.

What sets you apart from the other Wilmette Village President candidate, Bob Bielinski? I have 6 years of experience as a Trustee and many significant accomplishments that have improved our town, all of which show I am ready to be Village President.  Bob had just 1 yr and 5 months experience as a Trustee when he decided he was ready to be Village President.  This experience gap is not just a minor difference, as every Village President in the last 30+ years has had 6 or more years of experience in Village government before running for Village President.  This explains why current and former Village Trustees have endorsed my candidacy for Village President.  Nobody who has served with Bob has endorsed him.  This also explains why I am widely endorsed by key Wilmette businesses, such as The Wilmette Theatre, The Bottle Shop, The Rock House Music School and Cafe, the real estate agents of the entire north shore, and many other local business owners and leaders.  Not a single Wilmette business has endorsed Bob.

In addition to my accomplishments on revitalizing our downtown, I have also:
- Created a preservation-friendly variance that reduced building permit wait times from 6 months down to 2-3 weeks.
- Pressed State leaders and proposed new legislation to correct the unsustainable public employee pension mess that is plaguing Wilmette and other units of government in Illinois.

In contrast, Bob can't point to a single idea for change or improvement that he has brought the Village.  Not one.

Bob is trying to create a difference between us by talking about a commercial development that was proposed for Green Bay Rd. several years ago.  But Bob never attended any of the meetings where this development was discussed, so a few weeks ago Bob served a burdensome FOIA request on his own Village government to try and learn about this important issue.  What he learned was that back in 2010, a narrow majority of trustees wrongly thwarted a legitimate proposal to build a 3 story mixed use building on the site of the long-vacant Ford dealership.  This one building would have generated $30 million in property and sales taxes by now, and it would have been a great foundation to attract further development to the village center.  Over my objections, the narrow majority wrongly rejected the developer's plan by passing a moratorium on downtown business development.  They might as well have hung a giant "Sorry, we're closed" sign at the entrance to Wilmette.  The moratorium was a terrible idea, and the developer sued the Village, costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.  On the eve of trial when the developer was about to win, the Village was forced to settle the case by buying the property from the developer for $3.7 million.  The bottom line is, I supported a legitimate proposal for a beautiful 3 story mixed use building downtown that would have paid $30 million in taxes, which Wilmette homeowners have instead been forced to pay.  Bob disagrees, he would have supported the moratorium on downtown business development and the failed litigation strategy that has cost Wilmette taxpayers in total some $34 million.  That's an important difference between us.

Over the last 6 years I have been hard at work bringing new ideas, change and improvement to Wilmette residents, and I am seeking the opportunity to do so again as Village President.  By contrast, Bob has not proposed any new ideas, any change, or any improvement, and after less than a year and half on the job he started campaigning for the next office, asking Wilmette residents for a promotion.  It's not too much to ask for an elected official to just do the job they were elected to do before seeking higher office.  That's another important difference between us.

What do you plan to do during your term as Wilmette Village President?  I plan to do everything I can to get the word out to the development community that Wilmette is "Open for Business".  I will try and erase the stigma that the moratorium on downtown Wilmette business development (a moratorium that Bob now supports) has left with the development community.  I will help make Wilmette government work for our residents by continuing to improve the construction permitting process so that Wilmette homeowners are encouraged to maintain and enhance their homes.  I will work to improve our storm sewers so that we have fewer basements flooding.  I will work to maintain and improve the high level of service that residents have come to expect from local government in Wilmette.  Basically, I will continue to do what I have been doing for the last 6 years.

How do you address resident’s concern about revitalizing the downtown district and the closing of many local businesses?  I will continue the work I started with the RTA Master Plan to create incentives and attract development dollars to Wilmette.  Prospective business owners need to see that Wilmette has clear, simple rules, and is an attractive environment with great demographics where a well-run business can succeed.  I have a track record of making this happen in Wilmette.  My opponent has not offered a single idea as a Trustee to revitalize our business districts.  Not one.

Anything else you want to add?  For the last 6 years, I have been working hard to attract development dollars to Wilmette, and I can tell you, my efforts are succeeding -  we are starting to see some momentum.  If you give me the chance to serve as your Village President, you will not find a more energetic, experienced or effective advocate to make Wilmette the most desirable community on the North Shore.  To do that, I need your vote for Village President.  You can learn more about me athttp://us.mg.mail.yahoo.com/neo/www.mikeforwilmette.com, or the campaign Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/MikeForWilmette.

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