Kalid Baste is congratulated by Mayor Steve Landek after being sworn in as Bridgeview’s first Arab American village trustee. (Photos by Steve Metsch) 

Kalid Baste is congratulated by Mayor Steve Landek after being sworn in as Bridgeview’s first Arab American village trustee. (Photos by Steve Metsch) 

Baste becomes first Arab American on Bridgeview Village Board

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dvn baste new BV trustee 2023

Kalid Baste is congratulated by dozens of well-wishers after he was sworn in.  

By Steve Metsch 

In the newly decorated board room at the Bridgeview Village Hall, in front a standing room only crowd of family and friends, Kalid Baste became part of history.

He was sworn in as the first Arab American to serve as a village trustee in Bridgeview.

Baste was given the oath of office by Mayor Steve Landek, who selected Baste to be a village trustee after James Cecott announced he would not seek re-election.

It was an easy decision for Baste to say “yes.”

“This is my hometown. My brothers, my father, we all live in the same community. We stay in this community. We’re not running away. So, if you stay here, you need to better it,” he said.

Baste, 48, is an accountant with an office at 112th Street and Harlem Avenue in Worth. He’s been in business about 26 years.

Baste has lived in Bridgeview since 1985. He and his wife have three children.

The twins, a boy and girl, are in college and one son in high school. The eldest are studying to become an orthopedic doctor and dentist.

“The youngest is shooting to be an engineer,” he said.

Baste grew up one of 11 children in a Palestinian Muslim home and is honored to be the first Arab American on the village board.

“It means a lot,” he said after taking many photos with well-wishers.

“The people who serve on this board or any other committee or board in this village or in any village should be a representation of the residents,” he said after the May 3 board meeting.

Bridgeview, which has a popular mosque north of 95th Street and west of Harlem Avenue, boasts a large Muslim population and many Muslim businesses.

As a respected businessman, Baste “brings a good perspective” to village government, Landek said.

“I think he’s going to be great addition,” Landek said.

Baste has not served on any village committees, but has helped Landek over the years.

“The mayor calls upon me if he wants to know about somebody’s good character in the community. If someone wants to conduct business in the community (the mayor will ask me) ‘Do you know anything about this person? Anything we should be aware of?’” Baste said.

It only made sense that the next trustee should be an Arab American.

“Is he?” Landek deadpanned. “It’s time.”

“He has a lot of experience in business. He’s an accountant, has a very successful practice. He’s an investor in property. He knows what’s necessary as a business owner, an investor,” Landek said.

After he was sworn in, Trustee Pat Higginson said “welcome aboard.”

Trustee Claudette Struzik echoed that, adding: “You know what happens once you start this, 30 years later you’re still here.”

Baste smiled and replied: “I’m up for the challenge.”

Later, Baste noted that he “has a footprint in this village.”

“I own real estate in this village. We have a strong footprint. We’ve been here for a long time, since 1985. That’s a long time. It’s nice to have somebody who is a product of this village and is still in this village,” Baste said.

Baste, who is the youngest village trustee, said he will be “heavily interested in having the right businesses in this community.”

“For some people, some businesses, you have to think about (if) they want to be here because they want to make money. But do I want you here? Are you the right fit? We want the right businesses for this community because they attract the right customer, they bring (in) the right sales tax dollars.

“I’m a finance guy and I want to see the economics of this village continue to grow. That’s where a lot of my focus will be, real estate and finances,” Baste said.

Asked what type of businesses he has in mind, he said, “I like big box businesses that are owned by smaller people.”

“Look at Pete’s Fresh Market on 103rd. Some may see them as a big box business, but they started off as one store in the city and here they are now. And, they employ a lot of people from this area,” he said.

“I like businesses like that because no matter how big they are, they’re here, versus a company based in Utah with a district manager. I want you to be here. That’s what I like,” he said.

He also likes Bridgeview’s diverse population.

“First of all, it keeps racism away because we all have to get along with one another. I have to understand you. You have to understand me. Those are important factors,” Baste said.

“I remember when I had to go to Dominick’s with ladies from our (Muslim) community during Desert Storm because they were getting harassed.

“But this is back in 1990. You can’t blame the residents here for something taking place abroad. Same as a shooting at a school. You can’t blame everybody in that respect,” he said.

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