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home : elections : elections March 30, 2017

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

There are two candidates for Alderman of the Third Ward: Alex Block, Alex Morgan, and Melissa Wynne.

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.

Alex Block



Thumbnail sketch:
Graduate of Lincoln, Nichols, and ETHS; B.A. in political science and history, Miami University. Current employment: Shriver Center.

Civic activities: Board of Evanston Police and Fire Foundation, member of Southeast Evanston Association and NAACP; catalyzed a successful grassroots movement to protect the lakefront, 2013; volunteers at McGaw Y, YWCA, Justin Wynn Leadership Academy, and Dajae Coleman Foundation. Lived in Third Ward 24 years.

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

Alex Block is the best candidate to represent the voices and values of the 3rd Ward. He is running to put our progressive politics into practice and he is the only candidate running that is both real Evanston and real progress. ABlock is a strong leader, a gifted communicator, and a relentless fighter for our progressive values. As a community organizer, he inspired communities to fight for green energy successfully stopping bailouts of major pollutants. As an advocate for Evanston’s lakefront, he took on the establishment and organized a winning grassroots movement to protect our parkland. He is the only candidate that has pledged to put constituents first by returning every phone call and responding to every email. And ABlock is a consensus builder with a record of finding common ground on tough issues. Block by block, ABlock will put these skills to work to achieve real Evanston progress.

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

As alderman, Alex Block’s top three priorities will be 1) constituent services, 2) solving Evanston’s affordability crisis, and 3) maintaining safe neighborhoods by eliminating gun violence and holding our police accountable. First, ABlock pledges to return every constituent phone call and respond to every constituent email. Second, ABlock will tackle our affordability crisis by supporting a living wage ordinance, pioneering innovative approaches to affordable housing, and entering into a fair-share compact with Northwestern so they pay what they owe. Finally, ABlock will take on crime and gun violence by addressing root causes. He will put people to work so it’s easier for kids to pick up a book than it is a gun. Prioritizing those least proximate to power, ABlock will fight to “ban the box” and support our police by holding them to the highest standards via an independent police review authority. That’s what real Evanston progress looks like.

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

Affordability, crime, and the rat problem are the 3rd Ward’s top three challenges. As alderman, Alex Block won’t stop fighting until all three issues are solved. First, he’ll tackle our affordability crisis by supporting a living wage ordinance, pioneering innovative approaches to affordable housing, and entering into a fair-share compact with Northwestern so they pay what they owe. In his first year, ABlock pledges to not raise property taxes. To stop crime, ABlock will work tirelessly to address crime’s root causes and to ensure every Evanstonian has a pathway to prosperity on the right side of the law. He’ll also work closely with the police to put more cops on foot and bike patrol. To end our rat problem, ABlock will work with residents to secure their trash and maintain their properties pursuant to the City code. These steps will lead to a safer, cleaner, and more affordable 3rd Ward.

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

The City is not doing enough to address violence. An estimated 3,000 Evanstonians between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of school, out of work, and disconnected from critical services and supports. Data shows these at-risk youth disproportionately engage in gun violence. ABlock supports tripling the number of City outreach workers and reducing each workers’ case load from 60 to 25. Additionally, he supports vigorous reinvestment in Evanston’s most underprivileged neighborhoods. Communities in which people are unable to find work, find healthy food, or access safe and reliable modes of transport are most at risk for gun violence. Therefore, to keep all of us safe, the City must commission and implement a ten-year plan to invigorate Evanston’s least prosperous neighborhoods with locally owned and operated businesses, greater access to public transportation, and high-quality affordable housing. These measures will lead to safer communities in every corner of Evanston.

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?

Alex Block will work relentlessly to recruit locally owned and operated businesses to Evanston. He knows that small businesses are the backbone of local communities and he believes a diverse and robust business sector provides jobs, keeps property taxes low, and contributes to Evanston’s vibrancy. In the 3rd Ward, ABlock understands a careful balance must be struck. New development must be compatible with the neighborhood but also reflect the sprit of Evanston. That’s why ABlock believes new developments should have green space, landscaping, and set-backs away from the curb to promote walkability. The closure of the South Evanston Whole Foods, right here in the 3rd Ward, presents an exciting opportunity. ABlock believes it’s the prime location for a local market, like the old Oak Street Market, but believes any occupant should generate sales tax to alleviate residents’ rising property tax burdens and prevent density issues.

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

Alex Block serves on the Board of the Evanston Police & Fire Foundation because he knows it is critical for the police to have constructive relationships with the communities they serve. He also understands that people who don’t feel valued - whether that’s a young Evanstonian who can’t find work and can’t afford college or a police officer who’s worried his pension won’t be there when he retires – will not always behave in the most productive ways. It’s no surprise that the EPD most often interacts with our communities of color. Those are the communities that disproportionately suffer from underemployment, poverty, and a striking lack of resources. Building stronger relationships doesn’t start or end with our police force. It begins with making real investments in our least privileged neighborhoods. ABlock will be a fighter for those causes and for an independent and robust police oversight authority.

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

Today, developers can bypass affordable housing requirements by paying into the City’s affordable housing fund. That’s wrong and it should stop. If you build in Evanston, you should invest in our most vulnerable. ABlock will fight to require developers to build affordable housing options in any new, large, multi-unit buildings. Additionally, the City should spend the millions of dollars it already has in its affordable housing fund. Through a partnership with the YMCA and Evanston’s many faith-based institutions, the City should integrate affordable housing into existing neighborhoods in every part of the City. Middle class families need help too. No matter where on the socioeconomic spectrum you fall, Evanston should have a housing option for you. Socioeconomic diversity is a hallmark of Evanston’s greatness and we need to double down on our progressive values in order to preserve the diversity that makes Evanston special.

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?

Alex Block recognizes achieving equity requires deliberate action across all sectors of City government. Equity is a cause ABlock has been committed to since his days serving as the Student Representative on the ETHS School Board when he advocated against systems that disadvantaged non-white students. Today, ABlock works at the Shriver Center where he helps advocate for people living in inequitable conditions. He believes major decisions made by the City Council ought to be viewed through an equity lens in a way that prioritizes those least proximate to power. City staff and elected officials should ask themselves, “what does this mean for the least privileged Evanstonians?” ABlock also believes that Evanstonians should play a critical role in the City’s discussion of equity. If elected, ABlock pledges to hold quarterly ward meetings and will provide equity updates at each one. Equity is Evanston’s greatest challenge. Let’s tackle it head on.

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

Alex Block knows climate change poses an enormous threat to Evanstonians and threatens one of our greatest natural resources: Lake Michigan. Evanston can and should be a nationwide leader in combating climate change and saving our planet. We must make real progress on this issue by entering into a power purchase agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing, and installation of a 100% carbon neutral energy system. By adopting this innovative approach, following the lead of cities like Washington DC and Palo Alto, the City will reduce its carbon-footprint and play a pivotal role in saving the planet. ABlock will also commit to a 40% reduction in food waste by expanding the City’s composting program to food/grocery establishments. Evanston is one of the best communities in the nation for good food. We also should be one of the best communities for good stewardship of the environment.

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

The Cradle to Career initiative, through its five action teams, has the potential to make huge inroads towards eliminating inequity in Evanston. The network’s focus on literacy is the right approach. Research continues to show that literacy is foundational to living a peaceful, upwardly mobile, and dignified life. While Evanston is blessed to have a host of not-for-profits, those organizations often compete for similar funding and duplicate their efforts. The Cradle to Career program is specifically designed to address those overlap issues by heightening collaboration and uniting causes across the entire City. Alex Block will be a champion for the Cradle to Career initiative advocating for the City to throw its entire weight behind the project. As alderman, ABlock will take a leadership role within the network and he’ll fight relentlessly, alongside Cradle to Career, to ensure every Evanston child is literate and prepared for success.

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

Alex Block believes our City is strongest when every Evanstonian has the ability to live up to their fullest potential. Evanston is the greatest city in the world because of its vibrancy and diversity. Maintaining those aspects of our City requires a holistic approach to governing that leaves no one behind. At the same time, ABlock will be, above all else, responsive to his constituents. He promises to return every 3rd Ward phone call and respond to every 3rd Ward email. He will hold quarterly ward meetings and solicit feedback via a variety of mediums. Ultimately, ABlock will vote on the Council in a way that expresses the aspirations of all Evanstonians: the desire to live in a welcoming and safe community that reflects the progressive values we hold dearest. That’s real Evanston. That’s real progress. And that’s what Alex Block will fight for every day, block by block.
                .........................................................

 

Alex Morgan



Thumbnail sketch:
B.A. in political science, Kalamazoo College; M.A. in Urban Education and teaching certificate from Cardinal Stritch University. Current employment Executive Director, Progressive Turnout Project, an organization focused on increasing voter turnout (helped launch the program). Taught kindergarten in Milwaukee for three years.

Civic activities: Board of Democratic Party of Evanston; volunteer for Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL); facilitates restorative justice circles at School District 65. Moved to Third ward in 2015.

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

An Alderman should be a good listener and an advocate for residents. I have spent my professional life bringing people together to advocate for their communities. I have worked with neighborhood leaders across the country to hear and understand their issues and to train them on the skills they need to make their voices heard in their communities. As Alderman, I will make sure the voices in our community are heard as well.

As a kindergarten teacher at an early childhood center in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Milwaukee, I was asked to help mostly young parents navigate the complex urban education landscape to find the right elementary school for their children. Most of my colleagues only offered suggestions and pamphlets at parent-teacher conferences. I made home visits and carved out time for school tours. I go the extra mile to do what is effective, not just what is expedient.

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

My top three priorities as 3rd Ward Alderman are to be accessible, make equitable decisions, and bring transparent government to the 3rd Ward.

An Alderman should be accessible because City Council is the most basic level of government. I am committed to having ongoing conversations with my fellow residents by holding monthly ward meetings, hosting weekly office hours, and continuing to knock on doors long after Election Day. Of course, I will respond to every e-mail and every phone call, but beyond that it will be my job to come to you.

I will treat every resident equally and cast every vote through an equitable lens. I believe every Alderman needs to think through how every decision impacts all of Evanston.

I will serve with the utmost transparency, publically explaining every City Council vote I cast. Residents will hear from me and I will listen to them.

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

The 3rd Ward needs serious infrastructure improvements. A quick drive or walk down Chicago Avenue reveals our streets, sidewalks, bike routes, and public transportation all need attention. Residents I’ve spoken with point out dark streetlights, major parking issues, and poorly kept parks. I’ll address these challenges through a comprehensive infrastructure assessment. I’ll hold community meetings, office hours, and go door-to-door to ask residents what we need to prioritize. I’ll advocate for those improvements and establish a reporting system so that we can stay on top of these issues.

The 3rd Ward faces loss of affordability and stalled economic development at strategic locations. City Council needs to put our Affordable Housing Fund to work for the residents who need it. I’ll balance that with our need to bring in smart development that can fill the hole we’re about to see on Chicago Avenue with the closing of our neighborhood Whole Foods.

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

The best way to address violence is by providing opportunities for residents of all ages. Our city has the right vision, but I think it relies too heavily on the Community Services Manager and the incoming Equity and Empowerment Coordinator to address systemic problems.

If we’re going to combat violence with opportunities, then we need to have buy-in from every city department. Initiatives like the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program cannot live in silos. They need to be part of a broad effort to create change.

As 3rd Ward Alderman I’ll work with my colleagues on the City Council to make sure we’re asking the City Manager and department heads what they’re doing in each department to create meaningful opportunities for residents.

I won’t exempt myself, either. I’ll meet with residents of the 3rd Ward to think about what opportunities we want to provide for residents in southeast Evanston.

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?

Regarding the Whole Foods property on Chicago Avenue, the city should actively engage with residents to share basic information about the site and realistic reuse. We should have several community conversations to discuss our options before a developer appears. I’ll advocate to bring what residents want to our ward.

Development in our ward has had its benefits and shortcomings. The landscape of Chicago Avenue has changed significantly. I want to applaud the work of the Main-Dempster Mile Special Service Area for everything they’re doing to promote our local businesses and I will work with them to support long-term plans for our small business community.

The city is falling short when it comes to providing residents with affordable housing units within our new developments. City Council needs to do more to ensure any new developments include affordable housing so we retain a strong middle class in Evanston.

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

Our beat officers have provided many excellent information sessions on how to prevent burglary and theft in the 3rd Ward. Beyond that, I don’t think most 3rd Ward residents have a strong police-community relationship. There is desire in some corners of our ward to establish a stronger relationship with our beat officers. That is something I’m happy to facilitate.

Across Evanston, there are questions about policies within the police department, especially when it comes to the arrest and detainment of individuals. In the wake of the deeply troubling encounter with Lawrence Crosby, I believe Chief Eddington when he says his department has doubled-down on training officers. The recent and very public arrest of Devon Reid shows that there is plenty of work to do. I will support funding for additional training for our officers as well as expanding after-school, mentorship, and restorative justice programs for our residents.

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

I plan to meet with affordable housing providers and ask them about their specific needs. These providers are a great benefit to the city and we need to do everything we can to support them. The best way to do that is to use our Affordable Housing Fund to provide them with grants to improve their units as well as offer funding for individuals to move into these units.

On a larger scale, Evanston needs to lean in and hold developers to a higher standard when it comes to affordable housing. In the 3rd Ward we have too many buildings with too few affordable housing units. This issue impacts residents of all backgrounds and whether you’re a working parent trying to make ends meet or a senior who is having a hard time staying in your home, I’ll be your advocate on the City Council.

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?

I applaud the city for working to make services more accessible and equitable to residents of all backgrounds. Right now the city is hiring an Equity and Empowerment Coordinator. We need to make sure this individual has an opportunity to meet with all city departments, run an assessment of city programs, and provide training for city employees to help find new ways to be more inclusive. Our equity work cannot succeed in a silo. It needs to be applied to all departments. As Alderman, I’ll always ask city department heads what they’re doing to expand their reach and provide more opportunities for Evanston residents of all ages and backgrounds.

There’s plenty of room for citizen input in the city’s equity work. Every city department providing any city program or service should ask residents if they’re satisfied with what our city offers. If they won’t ask, then I will.

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

While organizing with Sierra Club, I had an ally in Evanston’s Sustainability Coordinator. She put our city on the right path regarding environmental preservation and sustainability. In addition to the groundwork completed by city staff, I support City Council’s recent approval of an energy-benchmarking ordinance. As 3rd Ward Alderman, I’ll work with local businesses to implement it.

But the benchmarking ordinance shouldn’t be the end of our efforts. If elected, I’ll work with property owners in the 3rd Ward to ensure we’re making all of our buildings more energy efficient. We need to work to improve our community’s energy consumption and set a goal to be carbon-neutral by a specific date.

Further, I want to see Evanston expand outdoor nature programs, talk with residents about things they can do to bring environmentally-friendly practices to their own homes, and continue to pursue big and bold ideas like a zero-waste initiative.

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

As a licensed educator, I love the mission of Cradle to Career. I agree that we need to put every child in our community on a path to a productive and satisfying life. This initiative benefits the community by bringing us all together to rally around the common goal of lifting up the next generation. If we do nothing else, meeting that goal will ensure Evanston remains a great place to live and raise a family. It benefits the community by attracting new residents, new employers, and new opportunities.

As 3rd Ward Alderman, I will be there to ask Cradle to Career what I can do to help the organization achieve its big and bold objectives. In particular, I’d love to double-down on our youngest residents age 0-3 because that is where I believe we can have the greatest impact.

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

My constituents’ interests and the interests of our city are not mutually exclusive. As 3rd Ward Alderman I’ll go to my fellow residents and my door will be open to any and all community stakeholders. I’ll create opportunities for us to come together and discuss our big and bold ideas, our successes and our struggles, and what we think is best for our entire community.

At my core I’m an organizer who has a track record of bringing people together and creating change. I’ll bring energy and a fresh perspective to the City Council and I’ll work each and every day to ensure that we have a government that’s accessible, equitable, and transparent to all residents. I’ll bring us together and we’ll move forward together to build a better Evanston for all of us. That’s why I ask you to vote Alex Morgan for 3rd Ward Alderman on April 4.
                ...............................................................

 

Melissa Wynne, Incumbent:



Thumbnail sketch:
  B.A., Duke University; J.D., Northwestern University Law School. Current employment: Third Ward Aldermen for past 20 years. Past work experience: worked in environmental law and provided pro bono legal aid at the Howard Area Community Center.

Civic activities: Environmental Association Board; revived and led a Lincoln School Girl Scout Troop; Lincoln School PTA member; co-President, Nichols School PTA.  Lived in Third Ward 29 years

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

Much of my focus has been on protecting and enhancing the unique character of the 3rd Ward. I came to the Council with a firm grasp on environmental policy from my law practice and my volunteer work on the Environmental Board.  I leveraged that knowledge to craft the Lakefront Master Plan that protects and preserves our lakefront as non-commercial and open to all. The lakefront is our largest open space in the Ward and a critical quality of life asset that enriches the lives of all Evanstonians. During my service on the Council, I’ve become a land use policy expert, striving to ensure the economic vibrancy of Evanston while remaining a safe, inclusive community for families, businesses and all the community organizations who partner with us in this effort. I developed this expertise by grappling with the most granular details of Evanston’s zoning ordinances and through extensive research into other communities’ best practices.

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

Saving our public schools: My husband and I sent our two children to Evanston’s public schools where they enjoyed an excellent education. I support the District 65 Referendum because providing a superb education to every child is a core Evanston value.  I support universal pre-kindergarten, all-day kindergarten classes, continuous learning programs over the summer months and ensuring class sizes are at levels optimal for learning.

Responsive Constituent Services: I was the first Evanston Alderman to hold regular Town Hall meetings, and will continue this vital forum of community dialogue. Going forward, I will hold office hours in designated local coffee shops where residents can ask me impromptu questions. As always, I am readily available for individual and group meetings.

Affordable Housing: I was a strong supporter of Evanston’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.  I am committed to providing more affordable housing by finding new, sustainable funding streams for our Affordable Housing Fund.

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

Pedestrian & School Children Safety.   To address increased dangerous driving behavior on 3rd Ward streets such as Chicago Avenue, Sheridan Road, and Forest Avenue (where Lincoln School children are an especial concern), I am aggressively pursuing measures to slow and calm traffic, including through speed humps, new high-visibility traffic signals, and better lighting at critical pedestrian corners.  

Whole Foods Replacement.   We are well-positioned to attract a quality, 3rd Ward-appropriate tenant to the Whole Foods/South site, thanks to the many improvements we have made to the Chicago Avenue retail corridor over the last 15 years.  As we go through this process, I will hold community meetings and actively seek citizen input and counsel, as I have throughout my time on the Council.  

Infrastructure Improvements.   I am highly focused on the need for renovating our Ward’s Metra viaducts and for continuing our re-paving program to address sub-standard streets.

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

I believe better education and economic opportunity are the best solutions to stem the tide of violence. I think it’s time to integrate a sophisticated violence prevention and de-escalation curriculum in our public schools. Real workforce development that connects residents to jobs that are plentiful in the market is critical. That is why I have championed the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which provided 650 Evanstonians with summer jobs in 2016, with a goal of 1,000 jobs in 2017.  We know that providing these summer jobs reduces violence and facilitates career-building.  I have also been a strong proponent of Evanston’s joint program with employers, Northwestern University and Oakton Community College to provide apprenticeship and certification programs that serve as a foundation for good-paying jobs on which real careers can be sustained.  I am committed to building on these workforce development initiatives.  

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?

I believe strongly in using the City’s economic development funds to actively bring businesses to Evanston that will enhance and strengthen our tax base and quality of life.   Throughout my Council tenure, I have worked hard to promote economic development in the Third Ward.  Chicago Avenue has been transformed with a renovated and significantly improved South Point Plaza, including a Net-Zero Walgreen’s; a $34 million residential/office/retail building at the corner of Chicago & Main; and a long-sought Trader Joe’s, which I negotiated for and brought to Evanston.  I was instrumental in bringing Few Spirits,  Sketchbook, Union & Space and Hoosier Mama to the Ward, while enhancing and retaining unique 3rd Ward businesses such as  Lucky Platter, Secret Treasures and Auto Barn. The improvements brought by my work with our Economic Development team position us ideally to find a high quality and appropriate replacement for the Whole Foods/South store. 

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 are positive in the Third Ward.  But as evidenced by the recent community dialogue, the City-wide police and community relationship needs to be significantly improved and strengthened.  In 2016, the police department changed arrest protocol and underwent diversity training.  Our officers are now receiving training in de-escalation tactics and mental health first aid.  These measures will now be part of an annual training regimen for our police force.  In addition, the department is continuing to hold community meetings, led by Dr. Gilo Kwesi Logan, to facilitate dialogue between the community and police department.  Very importantly, the police department is working with our schools to educate our youth on how to conduct themselves during interaction with law enforcement. I strongly support these initiatives and am committed to vigilant oversight in ensuring that our police department meets the high standards and values that Evanstonians rightly expect of them. 

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

I voted in favor of Evanston’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which targets working-class families who were derailed by the recession and became housing insecure. But we must do more.  First, I would pursue new and innovative revenue streams to keep the Affordable Housing Fund strong and less vulnerable to economic fluctuation.  We must work with our not-for-profit partners to provide matching dollars for re-hab of our housing stock so as to provide ownership opportunities and affordable rentals.  I strongly support locating affordable housing throughout the City, especially near transportation nodes and commercial districts, so that residents of affordable housing can enjoy all of the amenities that Evanston offers.  

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?

I strongly supported the creation of a new position in our City, whose express mission is to implement equity and empowerment goals in every element of the City’s policies and operations.  This Equity & Empowerment Coordinator will report directly to our City Manager and have the broad portfolio that is essential for major policy impact.  I supported this measure, even in a year when our budget was pared to the bone, because I have seen the profound changes that are made possible when we have a dedicated and energetic executive position focused on a particular policy challenge. An essential element of the Equity & Empowerment Coordinator’s position will be facilitating community input and dialogue in the form of community forums, a dedicated on-line feedback box, and regular citizen feedback meetings, all focused on issues of equity and empowerment. 

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

I am a longtime champion for a wide range of green initiatives in our City. I strongly supported: the creation of the Sustainability Coordinator position within our budget; the Green Building Ordinance; the Energy Benchmark Ordinance; and the Electrical Aggregation Program, which results in significant savings to every household in Evanston. I was the deciding vote on eliminating plastic bags in Evanston. I supported the conversion of our City fleet to vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel and I will advocate for the transition to 100% electric vehicles. I believe we need to renew our citizen education program regarding recycling procedures and we need to develop programs to allow all Evanston residents to recycle, even those in large multi-family buildings.  I support the initiatives of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, including their weatherization/energy efficiency program and their promotion of natural habitat in Evanston to protect our pollinators and birds.

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

Evanston is blessed with many highly effective social service agencies, each of which serves a particular need for a particular population. But the idea behind Cradle to Career is that these excellent agencies can be even more effective with assistance in coordinating their efforts.  Studies show that the establishment of a collective impact program like Cradle to Career can help a group of disparate social service agencies multiply their impact by focusing on larger overall goals.  Cradle to Career is just starting on this mission of coordinating activities of the schools, not-for-profits, the City and the University to promote academic achievement and wellness.  I believe that its initial focus on literacy is spot on, and will help set our youth on a path toward academic achievement and gainful employment. 

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

I have, throughout my tenure on Council, worked hard to achieve a balance of local and City-wide interests by listening for common ground and relentlessly seeking mutual benefit that all Evanstonians can enjoy. One important strategy I employ is constant and active dialogue with my colleagues on the City Council, who often shed new light on difficult issues. But my most effective strategy is thoughtful and proactive use of community meetings.  A classic example was my handling of a conflict between the construction of Trader Joe's (an important Evanston-wide benefit) vs. the new store's 3rd Ward neighbors, who were rightly concerned about noise, garbage and disruption in the alley behind their homes. During the negotiations with Trader Joe's, I met many times with impacted neighbors and the developer to find solutions to mitigate and eliminate these issues. We achieved a win-win for all Evanstonians.

 







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