Born and raised in Skokie, Ralph Klein wants to bring his business expertise to the trustee level.
For more than 30 years, Klein has owned and operated his own printing company in Logan Square. He is currently chair of the Skokie Zoning Commission and served as the chair of the Skokie Caucus Party in the past.
Klein, a product of the Skokie school system and Niles East graduate, said he believes Skokie’s long and short-term goals lye in economic development.
“The long-term goals are related to the short-term goals,” Klein said. “You want the value for your tax dollars. Right now, economic development and maintaining revenue streams is the only way we can keep ourselves viable.”
One of the areas Klein touched on was West Dempster, which is just west of Skokie Boulevard. Klein said he believes the village didn’t give up too much for the newly constructed Oberweis restaurant, which some say got too good of a deal.
“Do I think the property was given away? No,” Klein said. “They paid fair value. The sales tax are going to give – it’s almost like saying you don’t want to do something because you can do it for a dollar less elsewhere.
“It’s going to be a great business model and it’s going to help redevelop that area,” Klein added. “One business helps another – if one is successful, another will follow.”
One of the things Klein wants to bring from his Logan Square-based business to the village is temporary parking.
“What saved some small businesses [in Logan Square] is designated loading zones, or short term parking,” Klein said. “In Logan Square, for example, parking is at a premium. This would especially be useful to small business owners on Oakton Street east of Skokie Boulevard. I think it would help those stores a lot.”
Klein on hiring more officers –
“Everybody is for hiring more policemen,” Klein said. “But you have to do it so you are fiscally responsible. A policeman costs roughly $150,000 a year. When you hire a policeman, it is a 30-year commitment.”
Klein added that crime is down “7 percent” and violent crime is down “5 percent,” according to the latest figures from the Skokie Police Departments annual crime report. He also added that there are already plans in the works to hire more officers.
“If you were to hire 20 more officers right off the bat, that is $3 million more a year [for the village],” Klein said. “And that is a 30-year commitment.”
Klein added that the solution to continuing a decline in crime is not only hiring more officers.
“There are currently negotiations to open [police] satellite locations,” Klein said. “I would also like to expand the neighborhood watch program. Where I live, we haven’t had a robbery in our block for something like 25 years and I believe our watch program has a lot to do with that.”