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home : elections : elections March 30, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
City Clerk Candidates, Profiles

The City Clerk is the only full-time elected official, elected at large to a four-year term.  The City Clerk is the Secretary of City Council, attends all meetings, takes minutes, and maintains permanent records of all ordinances and resolutions. The Clerk's Office is responsible for all matters involving elections, particularly voter registration and re-registration, receiving nominating petitions, and supplying absentee ballot request applications. Early voting and election day voting takes place in the Office of the Clerk.  The Office serves as the city information and referral center.

Salary for the City Clerk will increase in 2017 to $63,265 annually.  



There are two candidates for City Clerk: Rodney Greene (incumbent) and Devon Reid.

The League of Women Voters of Evanston (LWVE) and the Evanston RoundTable have partnered in preparing profiles of these candidates. Each candidate was asked to provide background information and to answer a set of questions prepared and sent to the candidates by the LWVE and the RoundTable, with answers limited to 150 words. The profiles below contain each candidate’s unedited responses to the questions (up to the stated word limit for each response). A thumbnail sketch of each candidate was prepared by RoundTable staff, based on the background information provided by the candidate.

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.




Rodney Greene, Incumbent



Thumbnail sketch:
A.A.S., Biotechnology, University of District of Columbia (formerly Washington Technical Institute); B.S., Biology, Bowie State College; M.S., Sacred Religious Counseling, Universal Ministries School of Theology. Current employment: City Clerk of Evanston for last 8.5 years.

Retired employee of Northwestern University (after 20 years). Member, Municipal Clerks Association of Illinois (MCI); International Institute of Municipal Clerk; Secretary, of the Institute Training Committee (ITC/MCI); mentor to many clerks; received certifications as “Registered Municipal Clerk”, “Certified Municipal Clerk”, and the top certification as “Master Municipal Clerk”

Civic activities: Volunteer for the Race Against Hate YWCA and Special Olympics event sponsored by the Evanston Police Department; reader at the Washington Elementary School African American Reading Fest; Co-Sponsor of “Come Back Kids” back to school talent event (2014, 2015); Member, Foster Senior Club, Kiwanis Club of Evanston, Evanston Police Chaplain team; Graduate, Evanston Citizen Police and Fire academies. Lived in Evanston 29 years.  

Question: What are the key attributes and qualifications that you believe qualify you to be City Clerk?

I have extensive training and knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of the position of City Clerk. Also, the City Clerk must be unbiased and able to conduct themselves with dignity and integrity in serving the residents of the community that place their trust in their candidate.

Question: Why are you running for City Clerk?

I am running as the incumbent to continue to provide the highest level of comprehensive customer service to the residents of the City of Evanston. My purpose is to provide excellent service to all residents in Evanston and the surrounding communities, as I have in my previous two terms. 

Question: What do you think are the duties and responsibilities of the City Clerk?

The duties and responsibilities of the City Clerk are expressed in the Evanston’s City Code as well as in the Illinois Compiled Statutes. The Clerk must adhere to the law and be just in serving across the board to all.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as City Clerk? What would you do to advance your priorities?

  • To provide all residents of Evanston with the best customer service available
  • Make available any and all documentation related to the City of Evanston.
  • To accommodate the special needs and time constraints for all Evanston residents.

To achieve these priorities this Clerk will make an exerted effort to efficiently and speedily execute these actions. 

Question: What would you do to clarify the process for persons interested in filing nominating petitions to run for Mayor, Alderman, or City Clerk, so they had accurate information about the whether the City conducts its elections on a partisan or nonpartisan basis, whether the 1992 Referendum relating to the election of the Mayor is in force, and what the proper dates to file nominating petitions are?

Please follow the Illinois Local Election Official’s Handbook for the current year for elections. Accordingly Consolidated Election - the biennial election held on the first Tuesday in April in odd-numbered years at which municipal, park district, library district, fire protection district, other special district and school district officers are elected. [10 ILCS 5/1-3(4), 2A-1.1(b)] This is a regularly scheduled election. December 12 -19, 2016 [10 ILCS 5/10-6(2)] (Not more than 113 nor less than 106 days prior to the consolidated election) Filing period for candidates seeking election at the APRIL 4, 2017 Consolidated Election. See page “v.” Petitions may NOT be circulated prior to September 20, 2016.

Question: Explain your view of how minutes of City Council and City Council meetings, including minutes of closed-session meetings, should be prepared. Would you personally prepare them or would you delegate that task? Should the minutes record the substance of the discussion, or should they be general?

The minutes are always recorded and transcribed by the Clerk or by the Deputy Clerk in the absence of the Clerk. This is in reference to both open and closed meetings of the Council. The minutes are not required to be verbatim. The main sections are the time, place, issue discussed, speaker’s names, final decision approved, name of the member that made the motion, seconded the motion and how each member voted.

Question: Do you think the City Clerk could improve the manner in which he or she handles Freedom of Information Act requests? If so, please explain.

The Clerk’s office in conjunction with the Legal Department has created guidelines to compliment the FOIA rules, as well as, an established online portal for submissions.  FOIA Law is clear. Once a request is submitted it takes 5 business days to collect the information before it is returned to the requestor. If the request is tedious, the appropriate department can request an extra 5 business to fulfill the request. There is nothing that can be added or removed from the already established procedure.

Question:  Do you think the City Clerk could improve the manner in which he or she performs any other responsibilities? If so, please explain.

The responsibilities of the clerk are outlined in the City Code 1-7-2 as well as Illinois Compiled Statutes. In addition to the duties now imposed upon the City Clerk by Illinois law, 65 ILCS 5/3.1-35-90, the City Clerk shall perform the following duties:

  • All petitions, letters or other communications addressed to the City Council shall be received by the Clerk. 
  • Furnish to the members of the City Council a copy of the proceedings of the meetings of the City Council not later than the fifth day following such meeting.
  • The City Clerk shall be the custodian and keeper of all the books, records, ordinances and papers of the City.
  • The City Clerk shall keep the City Seal, pursuant to Section 1-15-2 of this Title, and all papers belonging to the City, the custody and control of which are not given to other officers.
  •  The City Clerk shall attend all meetings of the City Council and shall keep a full record of its proceedings in a journal. …

 

………………………………………

 

Devon Reid



Thumbnail sketch:
Worked alongside local leaders like Rep. Robyn Gabel and County Clerk David Orr, led grassroots efforts to pass Automatic Voter Registration in the Illinois General Assembly developed and co-taught pilot high school civics course at John Hancock on Chicago’s West Side; worked for the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce. Spent early years in Evanston; recently returned to live here.

Question: What are the key attributes and qualifications that you believe qualify you to be City Clerk?

November 2016, I was unconstitutionally detained while petitioning to get on the ballot. I moved swiftly to fight injustice and hold government accountable. We need smart independent leadership in our Clerk's office. My organizing and activism work has put me head to head with some of Illinois most entrenched special interest and I’ve shown the courage to stand up for our rights.

As a political consultant, I specialized in ballot access and election policy. I’ve worked on many campaigns over the last six years and have gained immense experience doing the tough work of fighting for ballot access. Evanston needs that kind of expertise to clean up the mess seen this election.

Question: Why are you running for City Clerk?

As a youth, my family struggled with homelessness and without local options, we’re forced to leave Evanston. I later became a foster youth where I lived with a Latino immigrant family. Through those struggles I've met the greatest people walking this earth. They've shown unbelievable love and proven that the policy of our city doesn't match our values. The Clerk’s Office is fundamental to citizens unlocking the power of using their vote coupled with facts and data to strengthen their ability to make government work better for communities.

Question: What do you think are the duties and responsibilities of the City Clerk?

The City Clerk serves as Evanston's record's keeper, FOIA officer, and election official. The office also provides basic services such as notarization, collection of the Real Estate Transfer Tax and issuance of handicapped placards.

The office is often pegged as a silent service office providing only basic services - innovating only so far as offering passports and wonky hours. Evanston lacks an Investigator General’s Office. The Clerk, as an independently elected official, must empower residents to serve as watchdogs over our government. As City Clerk, I'll work to modernize and streamline the office allowing for a better overall customer service experience and stronger accessibility of government.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as City Clerk? What would you do to advance your priorities?

Modernizing Evanston's Clerk's Office

I’ll introduce an online legislation tracker allowing residents to weigh in on policy before it’s passed–putting the community’s voice at the forefront of every decision. I’ll identify savings and efficiencies in the Clerk's $260,000 budget to cover the cost of the software purchase.

Increasing Local Election Participation

In Evanston’s last municipal election 9 out of 10 eligible voters stayed home. I’ll build partnerships with community organizations to create a “Get Out the Vote” campaign in off-year elections.

Local Election Boards

This election had much confusion around candidate filing periods and primary election dates. I’ll clarify the process with local election guides making it easier to run, vote, and get referenda on the ballot.

Question: What would you do to clarify the process for persons interested in filing nominating petitions to run for Mayor, Alderman, or City Clerk, so they had accurate information about the whether the City conducts its elections on a partisan or nonpartisan basis, whether the 1992 Referendum relating to the election of the Mayor is in force, and what the proper dates to file nominating petitions are?

I will work with the city's law department and contracted codification service to compile all relevant election law and policy to create a candidate guide making exercising your right to run for office seamless. You shouldn’t need an expensive lawyer to figure out how to run for office.

Question: Explain your view of how minutes of City Council and City Council meetings, including minutes of closed-session meetings, should be prepared. Would you personally prepare them or would you delegate that task? Should the minutes record the substance of the discussion, or should they be general? 

The City Clerk wasn’t mandated to keep minutes until ordinance 148-0-16 passed in 2016. According to parliamentary procedure minutes are general in nature and capture highlights of discussions, motions, and movers of motions. Understanding the sensitivity of closed session meetings - I’ll ensure the public's right to know is balanced with the city's interest as a whole. Independence and transparency are key when writing minutes.

Ordinance 148-0-16 titled “Authorizing The City Clerk To Solemnize Marriages” illustrates the power of who chooses the words. Surprisingly, the most consequential policy change in the ordinance shifts responsibility for the City Collector's office from the Clerk to the City Manager. Most Aldermen are unaware of this and no elected official called for it. The issue at hand isn’t whether the move has merit or not, I agree with it. The unilateral consolidation of power and the masking words used to hide it should be alarming.

Question: Do you think the City Clerk could improve the manner in which he or she handles Freedom of Information Act requests? If so, please explain.

I applaud the Mayor and Council for taking leadership in calling for implementation of the NextRequest system. NextRequest created an online system for tracking FOIA request.Whenever possible Evanston should aim to process all FOIA request in the timeframe of citizen request. Nonetheless, Evanston too often uses statutory loopholes to extend or deny request. We can save taxpayer dollars and create meaningful dialogue by proactively releasing records online.

The release of the Lawrence Crosby video, a man falsely accused of stealing his own car, and the conversation that followed didn’t weaken our city or our police department, it will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for positive reform in our police department.

Question: Do you think the City Clerk could improve the manner in which he or she performs any other responsibilities? If so, please explain.

An area of particular focus and interest is improving the use of Communications of the Clerk. The City Clerk is charged with accepting all petitions and public comments the digital legislation tracker should integrate public comment on pending legislation. So your voice is distributed to council members for review prior to a vote.

 







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