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home : elections : elections May 29, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
Ninth 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 Ninth Ward: Cicely Fleming and Shawn Jones.

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.




Cicely Fleming



Thumbnail sketch:
Bachelor’s Degree, Sociology, Shaw University; Master’s Degree, Public Administration, DePaul University; Certification, Women in Public Service, University of Chicago. Professionally, and as volunteer, held positions at social service agencies, non-profit organizations, and private corporations many positions aimed at serving marginalized populations.

Civic activities: Volunteering with the homeless and in public schools; member, League of Women Voters of Evanston, Evanston/North Shore NAACP, Government Alliance for Racial Equity, and Public Administration Trade associations. Former President, Chute Middle School PTA, founding member of The Organization for Positive Action & Leadership (OPAL). Lived in Evanston 31 years, nearly three years in the Ninth Ward.

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

As an Evanston native, I have lived here in both poverty and with excess, giving me a unique and valuable perspective to bring to the Council. Throughout my professional and personal life, I have immersed myself in work aimed at providing opportunities to often underserved populations. Upon moving back to Evanston, I began working in the community and engaging in conversations directly with the residents regarding their quality of life and ways in which they’d like to better representation by our elected officials. Simultaneously, I have worked with our governing agencies to ensure that decisions are made to promote equitable outcomes for all residents. These conversations led me and a group of concerned citizens which resulted in the creation of the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL), a community engagement organization that has already made great strides in effecting change throughout our City. In addition to my community work, my masters level study of Municipal Finance, Public Policy Design, and Community Development, provide me with the academic foundation to further enhance my hands-on experience. ...

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

Quality of Life: I will work to keep property taxes and City service fees from increasing, with the goal of keeping the cities cost of living at affordable levels.  With, as the U.S. Census (www.census.gov/) makes clear, over 1500 families living below the poverty rate in the 9th ward; even a minimal fee increase can price people out of town. My goal is to push the City Council to think about tax and fee increases as a single issue, understanding that residents are often hit with several “small” fee increases on top of larger tax increases including this year’s District 65’s proposed referendum. Residents in south Evanston often feel excluded from city services and activities, despite paying into the city budget. I will work to expand city services south of Main Street including library, recreation, general assistance, and more.  

Safety: I will work with our Evanston Police Community Resource Officer to reduce crime rates within the Ward. …

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

Cost of Living: In addition to the 10.2% property tax rate, increased fees for other municipal resources such as water can be a heavy burden to some residents (Place Citation). 9th Ward residents pay an additional 1.4% tax rate imposed by the Ridgeville Park District (Place Citation). As Alderperson, I will seek to guide City Council to address our tax and fee structure in a comprehensive and constructive manner for the benefit of, not only 9th Ward residents, but the City as a whole. Using an equity model to assess the way in which these fees impact residents is an effective way to ensure that decisions made at Council are not inequitable and life-altering for our citizens.

Safety/Traffic:
Within the Ward 39.6% of our residents are over the age of 60 and 22.9% are between the ages of 5 and 14 (Place Citation). With this in mind, safety and traffic are vital issues because there are stretches of road devoid of traffic control signals or stop signs along with the newly placed bike lanes. …

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

Violence within the city of Evanston is a multi-faceted issue impacted by factors such as employment rates, access to resources, poverty, mental health and addiction, as well as many other factors. The Mayor’s Summer Employment Programs as well as other summer and after school programs are vital to reducing youth violence, though there is still more to do. Some ways I plan to combat violence include: lobbying our state representatives to push for stricter gun laws; enhancing our partnership with educational and employment programs for people who are unemployed or under-employed; ensuring that our social service agencies are working in partnership with EPD to deliver services and resources to our residents who are on a path to crime; and bolstering employment training opportunities like the ones currently led by City of Evanston The Youth and Young Adult Division and The Workforce Development Program

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?

With limited real estate available within the 9th Ward, my focus is on sustaining the small businesses, entrepreneurs, and home based businesses. I will work to connect 9th Ward business owners with our Economic Development office and Minority-Owned, Women-Owned, and Evanston-Based Businesses (M/W/EBE) initiative. I have already begun to reach out to local business owners and develop a directory of home-based business in-order to convene a 9th Ward business network that will provide them a forum to share information and allow me to provide an organized space for the Economic Development team to better connect with area businesses. The city can do more by better promoting and informing business owners in the 9th Ward about the M/W/EBE program as well as encouraging more entrepreneurship within the city of Evanston. I hope to nurture Evanston as a business-friendly city educating business owners on available local, county, and state resources.

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

Within our City, there are qualified, competent, and productive officers serving our community and in speaking to residents in the 9th Ward, overall there seem to be good relationships with our Community Resource Officer. We cannot negate, however, the fact that there are people within our community who have negative experiences with officers. Evanston police data shows that African Americans have higher rates of contact and arrest with our officers than other groups (Place Citation). The reasons why this happens are complex, that is why I support the continuation of increased training for our entire police force as well as a thorough review of the police complaint process, which is thought to be ineffective and cumbersome by many citizens. To increase positive community police relations, I will advocate for an independent citizen police review board that will provide greater oversight, transparency, and trust by citizens.

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

In the 9th Ward, we are fortunate to have Reba Place Development Corp which works to develop safe and affordable housing. RPDC’s investment into the ward has helped preserve the socioeconomic diversity of the community and I applaud their efforts. Given the financial unknowns around the state budget and any pending federal funding cuts, the City of Evanston will need to be more aggressive in leveraging funding sources to develop more affordable housing. Existing programs such as HOME and Housing Rehab Loans should be better advertised and possibly restructured to allow residents to become homeowners or contribute to our affordable housing stock. In addition, as Alderperson, I will strengthen our Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. The success of a strong housing ordinance implemented in Chicago, which has resulted in the development of affordable units, should motivate us to increase our requirements as well.

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?

As an inter-racial family, diversity is very important to me, however, I recognize that diversity does not lead to equitable outcomes. I will continue the leadership role I have taken in Evanston for more than 2 years pushing for process, policy, and institutional reviews using a racial equity lens. Building on training I assisted City staff to acquire using consultants from the Government Alliance for Racial Equity, I will further advocate for the implementation of methods proven to decrease disparities. By intentionally examining issues like fund allocations, where and how we provide citizen services/programs, arrest rates, and community policing tactics; we can be a model city.
Citizen input plays a key role in achieving equity, City Council cannot address the disparities correctly if we are unaware of how people experience life based on the decisions we make. Resident input provides a level of accountability and increases trust as Evanstonians see themselves as valuable partners in decisions that impact their lives.

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

Citizens for a Greener Evanston has been instrumental in educating residents on the value and accessibility of environmentally friendly life choices. The City’s office of Sustainability has also spearheaded many initiatives that have led to the receipt of several awards. A fellow 9th ward resident recently educated me on Community & Shared Solar Panels, exploring the implementation of these panels will be one of my priorities to increasing environmental sustainability. Community & Shared Solar Panels would allow residents the opportunity to decrease their collective carbon footprint while also saving money on their energy bills – both of which support Evanston’s current livability plan.

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

The Cradle to Career initiative is based on the collective impact model that has been successful in other cities. EC2C can benefit the City by providing a city-wide alignment between schools, our municipality and local non-profits. As a citizen, I was invited to participate in EC2C meetings and retreat, however, the lack of parent and non-partner involvement concerned me. Evanston is a resource rich town and EC2C has great potential to be a real change agent for our youth. I goal is to take a very active role in the initiative as it aligns directly with my goal of providing better support to our youth. I envision EC2C leading the collective charge to ensure that the Evanston cultivates vibrant, invested, and participatory future leaders. In order for this to be truly effective the initiative must include voices, leadership, and perspective from Evanstonians of various racial, economic, gender, and ethnic backgrounds.

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

I see the interests of my constituents also being the interest of the City. While it will be impossible to meet every need and incorporate every resident request into my decision on Council, I do believe that what benefits the 9th Ward is what will benefit the City and vice versa. While my constituents are my top priority, I understand that my goal is to make the best decision for all residents in the ward. Like my other goals, a comprehensive look at problems and solutions is one that balances the needs of my ward AND the needs to the entire city. Regular communication with my constituents, explaining options, decisions, and goals is the best way to balance interests and keep residents supportive of my representation of them. By serving the 9th Ward residents well I will contribute to improving the City we all love.
              ..................................................................

 

 

Shawn Jones



Thumbnail sketch:
B.A., Oberlin College; J.D., Georgia State University. Practiced law since 1997, opening law firm in 2011 at 708 Church St. Practice includes immigration, housing/real estate, and small-business issues. Former employment: City Reporter, Evanston RoundTable (eight years); worked in a bookstore, as a heavy equipment salesman, carpet cleaner, dishwasher, JC Penney janitor.

Civic activities: Member, City’s Housing and Community Development committee; volunteer for Oberlin College; pro-bono legal work for Chessmen of the Northshore. Lived in Ninth Ward eight years.

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

My experience as both an attorney during the day and a reporter at night give me invaluable insights into how the City works, who does what, and what residents want and need. Two critical qualifications come out of this work: unwavering belief in accountability among elected officials as well as City staff, and steadfast determination to solve problems for clients or constituents.

In order to get things accomplished and to be effective as an alderman, one must be able to work with people. A robust exchange of ideas, including inevitable disagreements, leads to better policy, stronger government, and progress. We must be able to work together toward our common goals. Over the last 8 years I have shown the ability to bring people together to solve Evanston’s pressing problems. Forming consensus is key to moving issues forward in City Council. I will carry that ability into a role as alderman.

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

Respond to the challenges presented by a dysfunctional state and national government. We must do more than ever on our own as we cannot rely on anyone else to fund or create initiatives for us. We must create the most effective and efficient government in the state and serve as an example for the rest of the nation. We cannot easily change what is happening outside of Evanston, so we need to turn our focus inward and make our corner of the world work better than ever.

Budgets and pensions have to pass with the tax burden on property owners in mind. Residents are being forced out of Evanston, and property is becoming excessively expensive, in part because our tax burden continues to grow. We must hold the line on City-levied property taxes and at the same time develop strategies encouraging the affordable housing necessary to allow our economically and culturally diverse populations to remain. …

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

Fair, effective government for everyone in Evanston. When a resident calls with an issue, the City’s response should be immediate and address the issue presented. Whether about alleys, rats, garbage, or antisocial activity, we must serve our residents fairly, transparently, and effectively. At times, it feels like the 9th ward is forgotten -- we are here, and we are Evanston. I will make sure the City remembers.

Police presence and community policing are inconsistent in the 9th ward.  We need to make community interaction a priority, because when we bring ourselves closer together in partnership with our police officers, we are stronger. Communication is key – the City must deliver timely, accurate information, and the community must likewise speak directly with our police and other public servants.

The 9th ward has significant affordable housing resources. The challenge is in making sure affordable housing stock remains affordable, and matching deserving residents while continuing to expand options.  

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

We must take a holistic approach when addressing the problem of violence in our Evanston communities. We must start at the very beginning, which is why I support the Cradle to Career initiative. It also starts in the home, and we as a community must provide the resources and programming needed to get those who need help raising young children the assistance they need.

A rift has developed in places between the community at large and the police force that serves it. We must heal this rift, and correct the code of silence that sometimes causes crime victims to refuse to cooperate with police. The police and the community must rebuild the respect necessary to solve this problem, and the police need to take the first step. The more officers are recognized by our neighbors, the more they are visible and trusted in the community, the better. …

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?

City Council should have an understandable economic development policy with established goals and identifiable target areas. Right now, our policy seems haphazard. Significant attention has been devoted to Howard Street, and understandably so – it is the gateway to our City. But other areas need attention as well, such as the industrial area behind Home Depot.

Because so little commercial space exists in the 9th ward, the focus is necessarily on small business and entrepreneurs making a go of things in the 9th ward. We must make sure small businesses are supported and encouraged, as they form the true economic engine in our City.

Rather than playing favorites and picking winners, the City should offer resources to all growing businesses, helping more and more entrepreneurs thrive.   

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

These days, discussions of the Evanston Police Department begin with the Lawrence Crosby video and the arrest of Devon Reid. Those arrests show problems remain, even though much is good at EPD. The police department mostly looks like us, with demographics largely matching those of the community.

But our officers are not visible and present in 9th ward neighborhoods. Few if any of us know any officers by name or sight, and few have spoken to an officer outside of a crisis. We need better community liaisons and more direct public interaction.

Changes have been implemented after the Reid and Crosby arrests. One critical need: absent finding firearms or similar public safety threats, we need to stop arresting people for reasons other than the reason they were stopped. Arrests stay on a person’s background records forever – even if charges are dropped. Chief Eddington says policies have changed. Good.

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

Three things: first, we should relax zoning laws to allow microhousing units in every ward in the City. Areas should be identified and zoning adjusted to permit smaller homes. This is a trend of late across the globe and one we should join.

Second, we should encourage and expand existing roommate match programs, placing rent-paying families into homes in pre-foreclosure, or of seniors needing help paying bills and staying in town. Such programs help both families looking for affordable rent and existing families or homeowners looking to be able to stay.

Third, Evanston should establish its own version of Section 8. Right now, residents must go through Cook County Housing Authority. I have represented people before CCHA, and it is a nightmare. 

Once we settle on a strategies, we must budget and pay for them. We do not need more money in an affordable housing fund until we have a plan and a budget.

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 City is about to hire its first Equity and Empowerment Coordinator. I believe this new hire should establish processes for all departments to ensure that decisions are always made through a lens of equity. Citizens should have input in creating the new processes and be kept informed of changes made to the City’s decision making process.

I also believe City departments should look like our City and truly represent our residents.  We need to encourage diversity in hiring so that all voices are heard.

It is important to understand what we mean by equity. The concept attempts to level the playing field; to bring those without advantages level with those who did not receive the same advantages. Care must be exercised in making sure those without a voice, those who are not the squeakiest of wheels, those who must be found in the shadows, are also represented and heard at the table. …

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

Evanston has taken important steps to become more environmentally sustainable than most communities across the country, but there is more to be done. We need to expand recycling efforts to include all condominiums and apartment developments, as some are currently excluded. We need to explore more public transit in town, including electric vehicle shuttle options.

Our carbon footprint must continue to shrink, through increased reduction in energy usage both by our public buildings and private buildings covered by the Green Building Ordinance.

Finally, we need to continue to work with our environmental partners like Citizens for a Greener Evanston to embrace and champion new ideas and technologies as they come on line. Our Environment Board needs to continue to advise us of any new initiatives. Innovation will be the greatest hope for a greener Evanston.

We must pursue both innovation and expanded recycling and conservation efforts.

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

Pardon the pun – EC2C is still in its infancy. Having existed barely two years, EC2C is an umbrella initiative guiding multiple organizations toward the same goal – making sure all residents are ready to contribute to society when completing their education, whatever level that may be. The initiative must be given time to develop and show results.

The ultimate goal remains the same across various organizations in the City, even though the method and specific short-term goals may be steps toward that goal. Provided the community continues to agree with the ultimate goal – a “career” (or other productive life) for every Evanstonian, the EC2C initiative is of obvious benefit to all.

 By its very nature, beginning in the cradle and proceeding through a child’s complete education, it will take time to see if it is actually producing the results we demand. We must give it time, and we must tweak it along the way to make sure we stay on course.

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

Rarely will 9th ward constituents’ interests conflict directly with the interests of the City of Evanston. As a ward with extremely limited commercial districts and little or no new developments, we have almost an at-large vote over economic developments in the City. When dealing with budgetary matters, the 9th ward is in the same boat as everyone else.

When it comes to constituent services, we have the same issues as everyone else. Public safety, rats, nuisances, traffic, speeding, and similar quality of life issues top our lists of concerns.

As alderman, my job would be in part to inform constituents of issues as they arise, but also to listen to voters when they bring forth issues I may not be aware of. I will represent my residents and vote how they tell me to vote. Making the City the best it can be will always be my first priority. 

 







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