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home : elections : elections July 23, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
First Ward Alderman Candidates, Profiles

City Council - Nine aldermen serve on City Council for a four-year term, one from each of the nine wards.  City Council sets policy, adopts legislation, approves the City budget, gives advice and consent to mayoral appointments, and hires and fires the City Manager.  Aldermen are organized into four standing committees:  Rules, Administration and Public Works, Planning and Development, and Human Services.  Aldermen are expected to communicate and be responsive to residents of their wards.  

Like the Mayor, Aldermen are considered to be part-time officials.  Salary for the position will be increased in 2017 to $15,990.  Aldermen are also eligible to participate in the City medical insurance plan. 



There are two candidates for Alderman of the First Ward: Lee A. Cabot and Judy Fiske (incumbent).

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.




Lee Cabot


Thumbnail sketch: Lived in First Ward for last 21 years; B.A. in Economics and Political Science, Tufts University; MBA, Kellogg School of Management; worked in marketing and consulting; 1999, Director of the Evanston History Center. Current position: Program Assistant for the Master of Product Design and Development Management program at Northwestern.

Civic activities: former President, Foundation 65; former board member, Shorefront, Evanston Pride Feeder Program, Orrington Elementary School PTA, Evanston Library Friends, Cherry Preschool, Rotary Club of Evanston, Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Evanston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Question: Please provide information on your educational background; employment/professional background; volunteer and civic activities; and how long you have lived in the Ward.

I’ve lived in the 1st Ward for the last 21 years and for 2 years in the 1980’s while a student at Northwestern. I have a BA in Economics and Political Science from Tufts University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. After business school, I worked in marketing and consulting for over a decade, always wanting to return to Evanston.  In 1999, I became Director of the Evanston History Center. I now work at Northwestern University as Program Assistant for the Master of Product Design and Development Management program. My volunteer and civic activities include former President of Foundation 65, and other leadership roles in over 10 volunteer boards including Shorefront, Evanston Pride Feeder Program, Orrington Elementary School PTA, Evanston Library Friends, Cherry Preschool, Rotary Club of Evanston, Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Evanston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Question: What qualifications and key attributes do you feel qualify you for the position of Alderman?

Having a background in both the corporate and the not-for-profit world, I know how to structure smart, effective decision making processes, create and understand budgets, and build coalitions to tackle complex challenges. I appreciate what makes Evanston special thanks to working for five years at the Evanston History Center and volunteering throughout the City for 18 years. In that time, I’ve developed invaluable relationships across the City that can be used to meet Evanston’s needs. During my 7 years on the board of Foundation 65, the last 4 as president, I became intimately involved in our schools. I learned about what our public schools need to develop our citizens of tomorrow. My approach to leadership is to be as responsive, inclusive, collaborative, and visionary as possible. I care deeply about Evanston, and will work tirelessly to fully and fairly represent all of the 1st Ward.

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

First, I pledge to tirelessly serve and represent all the constituents in the 1st ward.  I recognize that to serve and represent, I must first know and understand the ward.  Being accessible, responsive, and communicative is imperative.  Second, all our residents and visitors must receive fair and equal treatment from our city services and feel safe and secure in their homes and neighborhoods.  Creating opportunity for all through strong schools and jobs will help reduce crime.  Lastly, while protecting what we cherish, like the lakefront and our neighborhoods, and respecting our existing planning documents, we must look to add to our tax base.  The property tax burden is a real and growing pressure on our residents and yet we still want to achieve our goals like keeping housing affordable and schools strong. We must fill our downtown storefronts with stable tenants and capitalize on underutilized assets in all our wards.

Question: What are the top three challenges facing your ward? What would you do as Alderman to address the challenges?

One challenge is fostering a better relationship with Northwestern so residents of the 1st ward feel the balance is equitable and everyone is doing their fair share for our community.  In addition, more timely communication between the University and its neighbors will build trust and cooperation and increase the opportunities for a collaborative approach to addressing the sometimes conflicting needs of the City, its residents, and the University.  Addressing the stability and vitality of the downtown area so that we fill vacant storefronts with viable and long term tenants is another challenge.  As a City, we must evaluate the attractiveness of older downtown buildings to determine if they have the kind of space that current retailers seek and look for other ways to bring visitors to our downtown, particularly during summer.  Finally, high property taxes are putting real financial pressures on residents. I would work to find alternative revenue streams.

Question: What should the City do to address violence? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

First, we need to ask why the violence is happening and consider its causes. People often resort to violence because they lack alternatives. We need to give more people options through education and better employment opportunities. The Mayor’s summer youth employment program has made tremendous progress in giving our youth work skills and experience.  Our community policing efforts are important for building a rapport between residents and the police.  However, addressing violence cannot fall entirely with our police. I applaud the efforts of community groups like Dear Evanston, which last year leveraged social media to encourage people to share their feelings about violence and suggest solutions. The group helped raise awareness, another critical component to effectively addressing violence. I also acknowledge the Gun Buyback program and its role in getting guns off the streets.  Violence affects everyone in a community, so we need everyone’s help to successfully address it.        

Question: What should the City do to promote economic development in your Ward? In the City? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

Demand for new construction in the first ward is relatively strong compared to the other wards.  There is opportunity, while remaining true to the zoning requirements in the Downtown Master Plan and its extension to the north, to be better served by making Evanston and its approval processes for developers more straightforward and predictable.  In doing so, the chances of receiving more offers on the same opportunity increases and so does the likelihood of being able to strike a more attractive deal for Evanston.  Demand for existing space in older building in the downtown area is more difficult and will require more careful assessment and creative solutions.

Question: What do you think about police-community relations in your Ward? In the City? What, if anything, would you suggest doing differently?

For both the 1st Ward and the City, police-community relations are good for many, but need to be better for all. The incidents with Lawrence Crosby and Devon Reid were most unfortunate and did not need to happen. We need safe policing, conducted in a way that builds trust and confidence. We need all of our residents, and all of our visitors, to feel safe and treated fairly. We also need police to be able to do their jobs and shown our appreciation, particularly when their work is done correctly and well. I support the Evanston Police Department taking steps forward, including training on de-escalation tactics, changes to use of force procedures, and additional diversity training. I also support learning how other cities approach police accountability and oversight, such as Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority. As Alderman, I would work with all involved to determine the next best steps.

Question: What specific strategies would you support to preserve affordable housing and to create additional affordable housing in all areas of the City?

The recently passed Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires new developments to either have affordable units or contribute to a fund for such units.  We are still learning what works and what can be improved in this impressive plan.  I would like to monitor it over the next year or so.  I would also work with the City’s Community Development department, specifically the Housing and Homelessness Commission, to track affordable housing progress and expand it where possible. Like with police-community relations, I think studying and consulting what other cities have as best practices for affordable housing is a good idea.
Question: What specific strategies do you believe should be in place to promote equity in the decision-making process for all City departments? What form should citizen input take in this process?

City government from top to bottom should mirror the makeup of the city. I would reach out to underrepresented groups to encourage their participation, starting on Evanston’s numerous boards, commissions, and committees. We need to remind people about these groups as another avenue to get involved and share input directly. I also think it’s important to assure city staff are held to and responsible for treating all citizens equally. There needs to be effective mechanisms for redress and recourse when citizens input is not well received. That’s why transparency is important. Already, the City maintains a strong commitment to transparency, including a section on its website dedicated to the topic that provides a recommendation form for transparency suggestions from citizens. I would like to build on this to make our local government even more accessible and accountable.


Question: What would you do to make Evanston a more environmentally sustainable community?

Evanston has a strong history of pursuing environmentally sustainable policies, and has won national awards for its work.  I support those efforts and will work to increase their usage among Evanstonians. I would champion the city’s support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and commitment to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions per the US Climate Protection Agreement. I would monitor closely the City Council’s recently passed benchmarking ordinance, which requires large buildings to monitor and report their usage of energy and water. I would want to see whether that tracking leads to reduction, then determine next steps.  We have had many initiatives as of late, including the rain barrel program, Divvy bike stations, and electric car charging stations.  Increasing their use among residents is important so we can capitalize on our efforts.

Question: How can Evanston’s Cradle to Career initiative benefit the community?

The Cradle to Career initiative has the potential to bring great benefits to our community from organizations across the community committing to pooling resources toward the very real issues our city faces.  Evanston has an impressive number of public sector partners (schools, Library, Parks and Recreation, etc.), non-profits, and faith-based organizations that are dedicated to bettering our community.  The advantage of Evanston Cradle to Career is the opportunity to unite their efforts so that the collective impact is amplified, consistent, and strategic.  For example, the collaborative effort that Cradle to Career is facilitating with early literacy efforts and parent empowerment can reap far reaching benefits for students by having them enter kindergarten better prepared for school and their families better equipped to support their learning.  The initiative’s commitment to measuring and tracking impact provides valuable information about what is working and where to target our resources.


Question: How will you balance your constituents’ interests with the interests of the City of Evanston?

As alderman, I would always first be a representative of the 1st Ward. That means staying in regular contact with constituents to know what the people of the 1st ward think, want, and need. In most cases, the interests of the ward are consistent with those of the City. After all, a thriving 1st Ward strengthens the City of Evanston and a thriving City strengthens the 1st Ward. However, where they diverge, it is my responsibility to advocate and ultimately vote for the best interests of the ward. I will cultivate the relationships to most effectively advance the needs of the 1st Ward.  Since an alderman is only 1 of 9 votes, working well with, and having the trust of, fellow aldermen and the Mayor is critical to advancing the needs of the 1st Ward. That is what I promise to bring in representing the 1st Ward.

                                      ……………………………………………………………………….

 

Judy Fiske



Thumbnail sketch: Five generations of family have lived in Evanston and Wilmette; B.A. with post-graduate studies in interior architecture and design. Licensed Realtor in Chicago and the North Shore, 1985-2005; co-owned small retail business in Evanston. Current position: First Ward Alderman since 2009.

Civic activities: Former president, Preservation League of Evanston; former trustee, Evanston Historical Society; founding board member, Northeast Evanston Historic District Association; former treasurer, Frances Willard Historical Association; founding member, Friends of The Georgian; member of the Kendall College Task Force; appointee to the Police Services Advisory Board.

Question: Please provide information on your educational background; employment/professional background; volunteer and civic activities; and how long you have lived in the Ward.

I was elected 1st Ward alderman in 2009 and re-elected in 2013, making a full-time job of representing and assisting my constituents.

For more than three decades, I have served the community in many capacities, including: president of the Preservation League of Evanston, trustee of the Evanston Historical Society, founding board member of the Northeast Evanston Historic District Association, associate member of the Evanston Preservation Commission, co-editor of the City of Evanston's Preservation News, treasurer of the Frances Willard Historical Association, founding member of Friends of The Georgian, member of the Kendall College Task Force, and appointee to the Police Services Advisory Board

I have written on and spoken frequently to community groups, statewide organizations, developers and the Evanston City Council about zoning, land use and preservation issues that affect the city's residential neighborhoods and shopping districts. I also played an active role in implementing the city's Lakefront Master Plan and I continue to work diligently to preserve and enhance the city's most precious natural resource. …

Question: What qualifications and key attributes do you feel qualify you for the position of Alderman?

During my two terms, I have earned my constituents' trust by responding immediately and effectively to their requests for assistance, by listening to all sides before making decisions that affect the 1st Ward and the city, and by maintaining an independent voice that represents the 1st Ward's residents rather than special interests from outside the ward.

I also serve on the following City Council committees: Planning & Development, Economic Development, Human Services, NU/City Committee (Permanent Chair), Parking & Transportation and the ad hoc Landlord Licensing Committee.

I have extensive experience with zoning and land-use laws, ordinances and regulations, which is essential to helping my constituents.

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

Balanced development, the attraction and retention of business, and protecting the lakefront, the city’s most precious natural resource. I have worked diligently to advance these priorities over the last eight years and will continue to do so by working with constituents, city staff, my City Council colleagues, developers and others while maintaining an independent perspective that does not cater to special interests.

Question: What are the top three challenges facing your ward? What would you do as Alderman to address the challenges?

The biggest challenge is to assure that development is balanced and enhances our community. I continue to collaborate successfully with developers, city staff and my colleagues to achieve that goal. A perfect example is the instance is the Hyatt House hotel on Chicago Avenue, for which I worked with neighbors, developers, a local architect and city staff to improve the appearance of the building so it better suited the block and reduced the negative impact on surrounding residential properties. The result was so successful that Hyatt is now using the redesign as a model for other developments around the country.

Question: What should the City do to address violence? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

The key to curbing violence is a good-paying job. I support a living wage and establishing partnerships that create jobs and job training.

On a related note, I vigorously promoted the Council's designation of Evanston as a “Sanctuary City,” reflecting my commitment to equal rights and social justice for all.

Question: What should the City do to promote economic development in your Ward? In the City? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

The 1st Ward is experiencing a building boom with new rental housing going up in both the downtown and on the periphery. Kendall Place is almost complete with 18 new single-family homes, The Merion has expanded the former North Shore Hotel, 831 Emerson is coming back as market rate rental housing, and the Hyatt House hotel’s successful redesign is a model for its projects nationwide. Our Economic Development and Community Development staff are fabulous!

It should be noted that Northwestern University, which continues to explore and expand its footprint in Evanston, might also be considered to be a major developer. It is essential that the 1st Ward alderman be an independent voice – and one that isn't silenced by conflicts of interest – who can strive to assure that its projects are good for the entire community.

Question: What do you think about police-community relations in your Ward? In the City? What, if anything, would you suggest doing differently?

Police/Community relations in the 1st Ward are generally very good. Our PST officer is very responsive and popular with residents. Unfortunately, homelessness and aggressive panhandling are ongoing issues. Charges of overreaction by EPD are rare, but when they arise, they have been taken very seriously by both the Council and Police Chief, and comprehensive reforms that reflect the expectations of the community are being implemented.

Question: What specific strategies would you support to preserve affordable housing and to create additional affordable housing in all areas of the City?

The 1st Ward contains two mid-rise CACC facilities and scattered site-subsidized housing, as well as a large number of rental buildings. Amendments to the inclusionary housing ordinance that were recently adopted with my support are requiring developers to include affordable units in new construction in order to qualify for bonuses. My goal is to make sure these units remain affordable in perpetuity rather than have their affordable nature expire after a number of years.

Question: What specific strategies do you believe should be in place to promote equity in the decision-making process for all City departments? What form should citizen input take in this process?

The Council has approved funding, with my support, for an Equity & Empowerment Coordinator on staff who will focus on internal and external operations of the city, including EPD. Empowerment will focus especially on underserved areas of the city to ensure that all citizens have the information they need to be actively involved in the government process.

Question: What would you do to make Evanston a more environmentally sustainable community?

Evanston is a leader in sustainability nationwide, an effort that I have supported from Day One but also in a way that is sensible for our businesses. Citizen awareness of environmental issues is high. Programs are popular, and an active citizen group and city committee makes certain that the Council is aware of new opportunities and trends. Given the challenges being presented by the Trump administration, our commitment to sustainable goals is needed now more than ever.

Question: How can Evanston’s Cradle to Career initiative benefit the community?

Cradle to Career is one of the most exciting, practical and positive programs to come forth in a long time. I support it enthusiastically and congratulate everyone involved for recognizing the need to streamline communication between groups, avoid duplication and focus on the common goal: success for all Evanston’s children.

Question: How will you balance your constituents’ interests with the interests of the City of Evanston?

When considering issues, I put the 1st Ward first because I feel that what is good for the ward is ultimately good for the city, and it is up to me to make that case to my colleagues on the City Council. What happens on Howard Street, for example, is good for my ward too, and so it goes for all the wards and areas of the city. 







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