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home : elections : elections May 29, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
Fifth 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 Fifth Ward: Robin Rue and Carolyn Murray.

The Evanston League of Women Voters (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.




Carolyn Murray



Thumbnail sketch:
Graduate of Willard, Haven and ETHS; B.S. in marketing University of Illinois Chicago; Navy veteran. Current employment: administrator for a pharmaceutical company. 

Civic activities: Co-Chair of Fifth Ward WEST and previously hosted the monthly Ward meeting every month; planned the largest National Night Out event in Evanston; championed two citywide gun buy- back programs recovering more than 50 guns; helped convene Crime Stopper community meeting for families of homicide victims and Candle Light Vigil at ETHS that drew more than 1,500. Lived in Evanston all her life, except for military service in Germany and a brief stay up north while getting her family back together after the tragic murder of son Justin. 

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

Determined; I fight for justice for those that do not have a voice in government. 

Dedicated; For the past 12 years, I have continued to fight for issues and concerns in our community and against gun violence. 

Compassionate; I have been a visionary during my tenure I have proactively addressing all residents with issues and concerns throughout the neighborhood.

Team Player; I have been a team member responsible for at least one or more annual events from Peace Marchs to Job Fairs and community forums.   In 2005 I worked with a team Evanston Youth Initiative (EYI) that headed the creation of the current City’s Youth and Young Adult Division that started the current Supervisor position. I was part of a team responsible for bringing the idea to the City of Evanston to host the two of the most successful gun buyback programs starting in Evanston, nearly 50 guns were collected. …

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

Strengthening Families: Creating affordable housing policies to support young families and the elderly; Enhance and grow workforce training and employment efforts; Revive parks and recreation assets

Economic Development: Support small businesses and new business creation with business creation/improvement loan fund; 5th Ward business real estate tax incentives for commercial projects to attract large scale businesses to our Ward; Create 5th Ward Tax Increment Financing.

Community Safety: Introduce more opportunities for Community Policing; Police/Community Outreach and Engagement; Provide resources for Neighborhood Block clubs increase communications with EPD Outreach participation. 

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

Adapting to ongoing cultures and the Ward is changing in diversity. I will work with the community and City Council members to create housing policies that will help families to find affordable housing, and that help the elderly to retain their housing within the ward

Cultivating more economic development and employment opportunities. I will work with City Council to reprioritize city economic development funding so that they are more equitably distributed.

Safety. Reviewing how we can add more Workforce development opportunities for age ranges of 18 to 30. I will work with City Council members to create community policing policies that implement the best and most creative national practices.

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

The City is putting funding into workforce training and development. It also has economic development entrepreneurial initiatives, and has made both at-risk families and violence reduction a city goals.  However, more needs to be done because of the uncertainties surrounding state and federal resources.  We need to implement national best practices to improve police/community relations, because the community is the vital component that can provide information relevant to solving crimes.  We need more accountable prosecutions and help from our state’s attorney to ensure that when our police force brings charges, the criminals are prosecuted and justice is provided for the victims.  One of the root causes of street violence has been the lack of prosecution of the victimizers.  When people are not caught and prosecuted, others take justice into their own hands.  We also need living wage jobs, and affordable housing.  And, because I attended Evanston Schools, I want to work with other City Council members to determine what areas in city government can align with our local school districts. … 

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?

Economic development can increase in the Ward by improving City efforts in strengthening existing Ward businesses and offer incentive training to business owners on; modern technology, business to business networking and updating marketing plan strategies. I think the City should try to feature 5th Ward businesses on their website and in regular City communications. Additional openly reach out to 5th Ward Businesses about the City’s commercial development programs and loan assistance for improvements.

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 is a vital program and very necessary in our community. Improvements are ongoing and it has its challenges we are just not the same Ward as 20 years ago, our Police must adapt to the changes in our community. The Police should establish a culture of transparency and accountability to build public trust in our community. Reintroduce more community engagement by adding an Outpost and having monthly community update meetings with residents.

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

Bring back the First Time Buyer Program for families to purchase their own property in Evanston. Seek to collaborate with contract builders and buy  vacant properties to be refurbished and sell back to families of lower income to promote diversity. Communicate to residents about programs and resources to assist with home buying and affordable housing. Invite Habitat for Humanity into the community in order to help build affordable housing.

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?

Establish a policy that promotes equity and enforcement;

1. Computers: One issue that I often hear is the lack of public access to City communications.  Adding computer terminals for city information to all City Recreations Centers that would be an improvement for knowledge base awareness to seniors and lower income households.  Not all residents have access to modern technology I think the City takes this simple amenity for granted.

2. Encourage Participation: Bringing initiatives to motivate community involvement for community monthly meeting and City Council meetings. I would promote keeping my constituents informed through a variety of methods.

I believe that the city should continue its work with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity.  This national organization has been working with cities across America to develop best practice strategies that promote more equitable government.  There is much value in working with others and similarly situated cities.  Citizen input is a key component of the process – and working with this group can help Evanston to develop its own template towards equity.

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

Start by expanding discussion to the Ward as to what steps should be a priority to make improvements. Our seniors and low income families could benefit from a Car Sharing initiative. Just one method of improving emission gases for environment protection.  I applauded the City efforts for moving forward, hopefully we can look at bringing up alternative energy sources such as solar power or wind power for discussion.

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

If the organization continues to promote positive change for young families and the information collected is shared for improving more resources.  I do see a need for improvement in two areas such as expanding on the mentoring component and adding to a young father’s involvement program.

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

The 5th Ward is growing in diversity so overall most Ward concerns are City concerns too. We know we have a City budget to maintain and my Ward interests are a priority so I continue to voice a shared representation just as other Aldermen do for our community.

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

 

Robin Rue



Thumbnail sketch:
Attended Evanston schools; attended The University of Nevada Las Vegas majoring in communications; completed education with trade certificates and licenses. Current employment: Program Manager for Sunshine Enterprises, developing local businesses with a focus on low-income entrepreneurs. Past employment: President of Signature Construction, which completed more than 100 projects, including affordable properties in the Fifth Ward.   

Civic activities: Provides weatherization resources, including free building materials and energy demonstrations, to residents on behalf of Citizens Greener Evanston; graduate of  Leadership Evanston; founder of block club; adviser to Janie’s World; past President EBBA; Sunday School teacher; Family Focus Imani Award; Woman of the Year National Association Professional Women. Born and raised in the Fifth Ward; 32-year resident of Fifth Ward.

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

I have served Evanston for 20 years.  I have responded to the needs of our residents with advocacy and actionable solutions.  I have testified at Cook County for minimum wage increase, at a local level for inclusionary housing, fought for equity in minority contracting, connected seniors to services they need, looked for new ways to serve young parents and innovative ways to improve our business community.  I’ve held EPD accountable to better policing and encouraged our most vulnerable residents not to settle for anything less than the best of Evanston.  I have served unsolicited, consistently and with enthusiasm in the community I love.   I am qualified to be our next 5th Ward Alderman because I am effective and progressive.  I do not serve from a place of anger or entitlement but dedication to a community full of opportunities and extraordinary residents.  I have personally overcome the barriers I fight against.              

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

Economic Development: All residents deserve livable wage employment; I will work to attract businesses that will create quality jobs. I will use my experience to support and increase the capacity of our existing businesses.  I will also identify vacant and underutilized commercial property to expand businesses.

Neighborhood Safety / Families: Violence prevention is a top priority.  Increased community/police engagement and outreached to disengaged residents is crucial.  Families must be supported.  Young parents need support to stay on track, families need access to more childcare options, seniors need support to stay in their homes and individuals with disabilities need to be included in our community design. 

Affordable Housing: We need to increase homeownership and expand affordable rental programs.  A return of a first time homebuyers program is needed to stop the exodus of young families including 3000+ Black residents over 10 years.  I will work to incentivize developers to create a new inventory of affordable rentals. 

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

Our top 3 challenges are the same as my top 3 priorities, Economic Development, Neighborhood Safety/Families and Affordable Housing.  I will work to improve engagement and encourage more diversity on committee appointments and keep the community informed.  I fight for a more equitable and just ward and will continue that as Alderman.  I believe economic development in the ward will require more integration… resources not just going to downtown Evanston but to residents who live west of there.  So, I will continue to fight to see resources allocated fairly.

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

Youth violence has been borne out of desperation and it won’t go away even with the harshest policing.  We need to make the economic conditions better in Evanston.   We need to make sure everyone is paid fairly.  The Summer Youth Job Program is inspiring and a commitment to this concern, I will work to expand this program beyond summer months and create opportunities for trades and other technical careers that can provide a livable wage after high school.  My work with Sunshine Enterprises and in the Construction industry has highlighted the need to support trade and technical careers and entrepreneurial opportunities.  We have graduated several ex-offenders that had barriers to employment and now have growing businesses and are inspiring their peers to try a different way.  Strategic and clinical responses to trauma from violence for our youth and families is an area we need to improve in.

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?

A new and innovative program enriching the 5th Ward and the entire City is the Community Business Academy.  We have seen an increase in local business development as well as increased awareness in conscious local consumerism.  We have more work to do to promote Economic Development.  We need to support our ward businesses more with funding and support, including facade improvements, interior renovations and marketing our businesses to the broader community.  We need to seek businesses that create jobs and recycle the dollar in our community.  We should have a bank, full service restaurant, fresh produce market and more retail space.  We should be more intentional about local hiring preferences and we should not have to leave our ward for everything.  We are disconnected from much of what the City is celebrating as it relates to livability, walkability and our celebrated food scene.  We have great opportunities for development here in the 5th Ward!  

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

Police and community relationships in Evanston are different depending on where you live.  In the 5th Ward my goal will be to create a new culture.   We have Patrol and PST Officers who are visible and responsive to our Ward , however as a community we cannot ignore the recent incidents of poor policing and bad judgment and we must hold those officers accountable with our voice.  The police should continue working to engage the community and increase community input.  This is both a ward issue and a citywide issue.  The gun violence we experienced in the 5th Ward would not be tolerated in any other Ward.  The entire community would have taken ownership and demanded peace and safety if the violence we experienced was not in West Evanston.  Our children will never forget the sound of gunshots outside their windows.   

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

We need to expand homeownership opportunities citywide.  Down payment assistance and other income qualifying purchase programs for moderate-income families is an immediate need.   Creative use of CDBG, Home and Emergency funds to increase homeownership and programs to help families stay in the their homes will be a focus.  If we can identify homes that are tax burdened, unaffordable and families living without utilities we can certainly improve our support for those families.  More thoughtful outreach is the first step to preserving affordable housing… connecting families in need to existing programs and support. 

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?

Our Mayoral appointed committees must reflect all of Evanston and they must include residents with experience in the areas of service.  A resident that has been threatened with or struggled with homelessness should have a voice on the committee working on homeless prevention and homelessness solutions, a representative of a minority contractors group should have a voice when discussing fair and equitable contracting for minorities and so on…  Our City hiring should be intentional and careful of inclusion in all departments.  If there is a barrier to recruit talent in a department we should have a committee assigned to overcoming the barriers.   Open committee meetings and council meeting public comments are a useful resource, we can do more to invite and encourage all residents to participate.  More outreach is needed

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

I currently provide weatherization and other energy saving resources for low income and other “hard to reach” residents.  In this role I demonstrate DIY ways to weatherize homes and provide free building materials.  I educate residents on cost saving actions and connect them to other sustainable initiatives including edible gardens.  I will work with staff to continue the good work of the Office of Sustainability while focusing on outreach to the most vulnerable residents.  I will look for innovative programs and funding to make options available more importantly affordable to all residents and work closely with organizations in town focusing on promoting sustainability. 

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

The vision of this organization is consistent with my vision for all residents.  Their programming has had measurable results for 3-5 year olds and they have been effective in reducing summer reading loss.  Community partnerships and collaborations are necessary to build self-sufficient and socially responsible adults and Cradle to Career has the right partnerships for success.  This organization need more time to reach the goals but the vision is clear.  Continuing the school age literacy work and introducing trade and technical careers should be a focus.   

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

Constituents’ interest should be the interest of the City of Evanston.  The needs of the residents are my first priority; I will work to insure fair policy and distribution of recourses with reasonable commitment from the City.  We can find palatable ways to support residents’ needs, manage taxes, fees and fines and ensure all residents interest are being considered.







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