Summit Profile: Meet Greg Vartan

Greg VartanYesterday, we had an opportunity to chat with Greg Vartan who is running for Summit’s Common Council. Take a read to learn a little about Greg and discover his vision for our town if elected
to Summit’s Common Council.

Greg, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with TipsFromTown. We realize you must be incredibly busy, and with election day drawing near, we appreciate the opportunity to help our readers learn more about you. 

Greg at Jefferson School.

Greg at Jefferson School.

You were raised in Summit and are still here. Why?
I’m so proud of my Hilltopper roots, but I have lived other places. I went to college in Williamsport, PA and I lived and worked in the Washington, DC metro-area as well. But I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to move back home to Summit.  I’m fortunate to have a great job with the leading company in the dental implant business. I love this town and can’t think of a better place to live, start a family, and stay involved to make it even better.

What has changed the most (for better or worse) since your childhood?
Summit has always been an amazing place, I know because my great-grandparents decided to live here and every generation since has decided to stay. Since my childhood, Summit has become more and more diverse. I think that is an incredible asset.  With more knowledge of cultures, races, religions, and traditions different than our own, the less we have to fear.

Greg during his Summit High School days.

Greg during his Summit High School days.

What is your favorite thing about our town? What makes us unique?
The people. Obviously there are lots to love about Summit and there are too many things to list, but the people of Summit are truly unique. The City is filled with people who are philanthropic, passionate, hard-working, and successful. I’m so inspired by all the people around me who work hard each and every day to make Summit a wonderful place to live and work.

What inspired you to get into local politics?
When walking around town and meeting neighbors, I’m asked this question pretty often. There’s a short answer and a long answer. I’ll tell you both.

The short answer is: I love Summit more than I can describe in words and I am inspired by the incredible people here to do everything in my power to make it even better.

The long answer is: In Summit I grew up surrounded by people who regularly gave of their time, their money, and their talent so that my sister, our friends, and I could grow up to have a better life. All along, the spirit of volunteerism here in town drove my thinking that I should give back as well. In high school I adopted a creed or philosophy for how I wanted to live my life. I decided that if I have the opportunity and ability to help other people, then I have an obligation to do that. I believe I am in a position to offer a unique and open-minded perspective, to engage with all of Summit energetically and enthusiastically, and make our Council work well for all of Summit.

Why would you make a good council member for our town? (experience, personal characteristics, etc.)
I will be a good Council member because I have a complete understanding of the way Summit operates currently, what is required to take us to the next level, and as a first responder, I bring a unique perspective. I have called Summit home for 23 years.  I have literally become the person that I am as a result of members of the Summit community. I have observed the effects of several years worth of influential decisions. I already know the key players, I understand the priorities, and I don’t require any familiarization. I have a clear understanding of how Summit operates and ideas from my incredibly diverse professional, philanthropic, and educational background about how to do it more effectively. Finally, I’ve also clearly articulated positions on topics like responsible spending and transparency, and I’ve spoken out and questioned Council on important issues like the Parkline and Gateway Sign Upgrade project. I pledge to be accessible, and to work hard for all of Summit to implement the ideas that will make our town even greater.

Greg Vartan with Cory Booker.

Greg Vartan with Cory Booker.

What do you think are the greatest issues facing Summit residents right now?

  1. Determining how to bring in new revenue without raising property taxes
  2. Balancing the need to invest in education while keeping tax increases to a minimum and spending responsibly
  3. Maintaining and advancing the vibrancy and diversity of our downtown without compromising the character and design

How do you plan on addressing these?
1. In determining how to bring in new revenue without raising property taxes: I am excited about the prospect of developing the Broad Street corridor. I think that when considering possible development the city should be open-minded and consider proposals similar to the recent development across from Celgene on Morris Ave. This potential development could include retail space on the ground floor and residential space above. Parking concerns would be alleviated partially due to the proximity to the train station. I would enthusiastically support efforts to make such a project reality, and of course to continue to include all voices within the community.

2. When balancing the need to invest in education while keeping tax increases to a minimum and spending responsibly: It would be a disservice to the hardworking members of our school board and administration to not recognize the fact that the school budget is incredibly lean. This has been done as the school system experienced a drastic increase in density and the ratio of staff to students has decreased over the last 15 years. I support taxpayer funded full-day kindergarten for two main reasons; the first is because it represents an investment in our future and the second is that it is a moral obligation. It is an investment in our future because the school system is the main reason why people make the decision to move to Summit and clearly, since more than 2/3 of students are currently enrolled; there is a high demand. Over time, our property values will rise as a direct result of this important decision. Secondly, it is clear that those students still enrolled in half-day kindergarten are those middle-class students with families that are not eligible for scholarships and also unable to pay the $7,200 dollars for full-day kindergarten on top of their tax bill. This is very clearly a tax on the middle class. Summit should not be the kind of community that has some of students entering first grade with a disadvantage.

3. While working to maintain and advance the vibrancy and diversity of our downtown without compromising the character and design: I understanding that we need to be innovative when considering ideas for the downtown without compromising the character and design: We have to be diverse in seeking out businesses to fill vacancies in the downtown. It is imperative that we seek out those experiential businesses that can effectively compete with the internet. We must recognize that Summit will never be like it once was, but celebrate the fact that if handled correctly, moving forward,  our city can be even more successful. I think we should look for a grocery store, for those that live close to downtown. Also, teen-focused business opportunities should be actively pursued to make our downtown an attraction for everyone.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
While in college I was a member of a small group that met, socialized, and learned how to West Coast Swing Dance.greg-n-meg

To learn more about Greg, check out his website

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