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home : elections : elections March 27, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
Mayoral Candidates, Profiles

The Mayor is elected on a City-wide basis for a four-year term.  The Mayor represents the City at official functions and presides at City Council meetings, with the authority to vote in the case of a tie.  The Mayor may veto any ordinance or resolution passed by the Council, and a two-thirds vote of the Council is required to override a veto.  The Mayor is an ex officio member of all council committees, and appoints members to City boards, commissions, and committees, with the approval of Council  

The Mayor is considered a part-time official.  In 2016, City Council voted to increase the salary of the Mayor elected in 2017 to $25,307, an increase of $5,000.



There are two candidates for Mayor:  Steve Hagerty and Mark Tendam.

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.




Steve Hagerty



Thumbnail sketch:
Graduate, Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Fellow to the National Academy of Public Administration, an organization established by Congress to assist government leaders in building more effective and transparent organizations. Current employment: Founder of Hagerty Consulting, a public sector consulting company (began career at Price Waterhouse).

 Civic activities: Family actively supports many local organizations including Y.O.U., Evanston Community Foundation, Youth Job Center, YWCA, YMCA, the Moran Center, Connections for the Homeless, D65 Foundation, and the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

Question: What are the key attributes and qualifications that you believe qualify you to be Mayor of Evanston?

I’m a leader. I can create a sense of purpose, inspire people to rally around it, and offer a vision of where we can go. I am a problem solver. I am not afraid to address problems. I am a team player and a collaborator. I know how to pull people together, offer a framework, and utilize the talent of others. I am results oriented. I care deeply about moving the ball forward. In summary, I offer Evanston a person who has a steady hand, who is a proven leader, and who has the right balance of business sense, common sense, compassion, and good judgment. These traits are evident by my success in starting and growing a professional services fi rm, my civic involvement within Evanston, including the YOU, the Chamber, First Bank & Trust, and the MashUp, and the citywide public support I have garnered for my campaign (www.stevehagerty.com/ supporters).

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

As Mayor I will seek to (1) decrease violence, enhance public safety, and build trust among our community. I will (2) seek to keep our property taxes stable through smart and sensible economic development that benefits all our neighborhoods. This will help us fund critical infrastructure and human service needs. I will (3) strive to keep Evanston affordable and diverse so that residents can remain in their homes.

To advance these priorities, I will work to attract businesses that will provide jobs and expand our tax base. I will also implement the inclusionary housing policy, and aggressively pursue federal grants that help us achieve our local objectives. I will apply my experience as a leader and facilitator to build coalitions to make progress on these issues by using the resources, talent and knowledge that already exists in this community.

Question: What role, if any, do you think the Mayor should play in developing a vision for the City and in promoting or implementing that vision?

The mayor plays an essential role in developing and maintaining Evanston’s vision. The mayor can encourage communication between departments and collaborate with all city sectors including government, non-profit, education, University, and business. The mayor appoints members to City Boards that appropriately represent our community’s diversity and successfully lead us toward our vision.

As mayor, I will work with our city council to prioritize pressing infrastructure and human service needs directing efforts so we act responsibly and deliberately. I intend to meet regularly with the City Manager to improve infrastructure and minimize costs. I will promote initiatives that are financially sound and economically vibrant ensuring that our school system is considered when making those decisions. I will continue to advance a “good neighbor” relationship for Northwestern and Evanston. I will work hard to make Evanston the most livable City in the US.

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

We all need to “own” this problem; this isn’t just for those in neighborhoods where violence occurs. We should focus on four areas:

  • Sustaining and strengthening our holistic “cradle to career” approach which focuses on the human lifecycle starting with pre-natal care through post-secondary success.
  • Continuing to support law enforcement to execute smart policing to get guns off the street. We need to make it clear that guns and violence are not welcome in Evanston.
  • Investing in community outreach efforts to pre-empt violence. When feasible, we should consider restorative justice and offer youth a choice between the criminal justice system and alternative paths to get them on the right track before it’s too late.
  • Continuing to develop skilled trade jobs apprenticeships and look for opportunities to further invest in workforce development like actively encouraging new developments in Evanston to use qualified Evanston businesses and residents.

Question: What should the City do to promote economic development? Is it doing enough; should it do things differently?

A strong tax and revenue base is essential to providing good city services and keeping Evanston affordable. We need to build on our diverse tax base, an asset to our City, so that we can avoid raising taxes while still making investments in our community. Economic development and schools in Evanston are completely interrelated.  Two-thirds of tax revenues go directly to District 202 and 65. Moreover, many come here because of good schools. What is good for the economy is good for schools and vice versa.

To promote doing business in Evanston, I would consider establishing a “Business Roundtable”, which exists in some cities. This group serves as ambassadors, helping the City attract and retain businesses. I would also tap into the expertise and creativity that exists within Evanston, as well as discuss with other NAPA Fellows from around the U.S., what can be done to strengthen local economies.

Question: What specific strategies would you propose to preserve affordable housing and to create affordable housing in all areas of Evanston?

We need to develop a plan to manage our affordable housing fund. We need to consider whether money can be used to provide low-interest loans or subsidies to public servants such as teachers and police officers whose incomes are not large yet whose value as residents would pay dividends. We also need to use our affordable housing fund to assist people who have lived in this community for decades but are being forced out due to increases in property taxes. There is a direct relationship between increasing property taxes and decreasing socioeconomic diversity. We need to be attuned to the implications our taxing decisions have on residents.

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

Absolutely. As a business owner and a civic leader, I’ve been deeply involved in these issues. My wife, Lisa, and I focus much of our time and resources on local programs that we believe over the long term will reduce the opportunity gap that currently exists. We have too many young adults, aged 16-24, that are essentially trapped.  They didn’t graduate. They lack opportunities. They’re experiencing poverty. Some turned to crime and must now rebuild a life with a criminal record – a very difficult prospect. I think it’s essential that the Mayor work with Cradle to Career, the schools, and other non-profit organizations to implement solutions that in the long-term reduce the number of young adults with no or limited job prospects. As Mayor, I will prioritize breaking down silos in the community to make sure the City, Schools, non-profits, University, and businesses work effectively and efficiently on this issue.

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?

Whenever we in city government make a decision, we must think in terms of equity.  We must ask ourselves who will benefit from - and who will be harmed – by a change in policy.  The conversations we have and the decisions we make need to be inclusive of all voices.  We need to strive to raise the voices of traditionally marginalized groups to an equitable level in this community. We need to create spaces for them to be heard and taken seriously. I will do this by attending as many meetings as possible within these communities, presenting myself as a listening ear rather than a loud voice, and making sure that these opinions are heard and valued throughout city government. In addition, I will use data to help us understand better the equity or inequity of the investments we make in the City.

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

During Mayor Tisdahl’s tenure, Evanston became a true national leader in terms of what a community can do to promote sustainability. I was taught and have always believed that we must “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.” To do so, three core objectives of mine are: 1) promoting citizenry and improving public engagement around issues of sustainability (like recycling) 2) working with CGE and other community environmental experts to ensure that when we renew our energy contract this summer, we do so by smartly balancing both sustainability and cost, and 3) revising the Climate Action Plan so that, just as we were on track to reduce carbon emissions by 20% in 2016, we will reduce them further and eventually become a carbon neutral City.

Question: What do you think about privatizing public spaces, such as the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, the Recycling Center, the Library parking lot, and the Harley Clarke Mansion? And why?

I don’t like the thought of selling public assets. I like less the idea of raising property taxes. Therefore, our public assets should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis where I would ask:

  • Are these assets widely used by the community?
  • Does the cost of these assets outweigh the benefit we receive?
  • Is there a greater use of this asset that, if sold, would allow the City to achieve an important goal and can we absorb the current function elsewhere?

Related to the facilities mentioned, I support selling the Recycling Center and the library lot IF its new use is sensitive to its surroundings and parking is sufficiently addressed. As the Harley Clarke Advisory Committee Chair, I opined that the beach/dunes must always be in public domain but that the most viable option to save the building/gardens, while still offering public benefit, is through private investment OR a well-financed non-profit/Foundation.

 

Question: How will you interact with State and Federal officials, given the stalemate in Springfield and the potential loss of funding for the City?

I respect and value the work of our state legislators. I want to be an active partner with them in pushing back against the Governor’s policies which have decimated the social services that many Evanstonians rely on.  I also want to push back against policies which would harm our schools or reduce funding for local governments.

I will strongly voice my disagreement with the Governor should he try to offload the State’s financial problems on local governments. Meanwhile, I will work hard to encourage us to leverage, in a smart and sensible way, our own resources and assets. The reality is we cannot be complacent when our State is broke, our State income taxes will likely increase (thereby decreasing the take home pay of our residents). Now, more than ever, we need local leaders who can think outside the box, form mutually beneficial partnerships, and identify efficiencies.

                            ……………………………………………………………………

 

Mark Tendam



Thumbnail sketch:
B.S. in Design, University of Cincinnati. Current employment: Sixth Ward Alderman since 2009; owner and operator of graphic design business, whose clients include Brach’s Candy, First Chicago and Chicago-Kent College of Law. Previous employment: Practiced graphic design for 35 years, including agency jobs at international public relations firms Hill+Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller.

Civic activities: Former President, Better Existence with HIV (BEHIV) former Board member, McGaw YMCA Board and Democratic Party of Evanston. Graduate, Leadership Evanston program, and Evanston Citizen Police Academy; Steering Committee, Leadership Evanston.

Question: What are the key attributes and qualifications that you believe qualify you to be Mayor of Evanston?

I’ve been active in public service most of my adult life and active in Evanston since 1995 — the year my husband, Neal, and I moved here. On Council, I’ve served on the Rules, Planning and Development, Human Services, Economic Development, Parking and Transportation and City-School Liaison Committees and the Housing and Homelessness Commission.

My ability to listen and approach everyone with patience and respect has served me well.  My education and practice as a graphic designer has given me the tools to develop sound problem-solving methodologies. My agency work provided experience in handling multi-million dollar budgets while delivering goods/services in a timely fashion.

I am proud to have taken a leadership role in amending our Affordable Housing Ordinance, reorganizing the Evanston Animal Shelter and Animal Control Program, focusing efforts on a downtown Performing Arts Center and transitioning the our library to a self-directed fund model.

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

Workforce development. We must create better-paying jobs, accessible apprenticeships and better development choices. Access to appropriate training and jobs needed by local employers will give Evanstonians a livable wage.

Economic development. I will be committed to growing all of our business districts, improving the safety of our neighborhoods and ensuring that Evanston is a welcome and vibrant place for all who live, learn, work and play here. To keep our many new restaurants, hotels and shops busy we must continue to grow our city as a destination with a performing arts venue, a woman’s history campus and a site for small conventions.

Care for the most vulnerable. Children, seniors, homeless and those with mental health/substance abuse issues need our help. As state and federal funds for our care organizations decline, the city must help reorganize and consolidate the services offered and assist residents in finding the appropriate services.

Question: What role, if any, do you think the Mayor should play in developing a vision for the City and in promoting or implementing that vision?

I believe the mayor’s role in developing a vision for the City is critical. The mayor is well positioned to work with aldermen, individually and collectively, as well as the city manager, chief financial officer and staff to bring the vision into focus. Words like “vision” or “goals” are useless unless there is a clear understanding of what they represent and how they might be achieved.

The mayor can express the vision to a broad, city-wide effort to obtain feedback and support from residents. But the vision is, to some degree, a fluid or flexible idea. We live in uncertain and unpredictable times and we obviously cannot envision the unknown.

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

There are short-, medium- and long-term approaches that we have implemented to address violence. In the short-term, the City and Police departments have worked with the school districts and neighborhoods to improve security. We have upgraded lighting, implemented a text-a-tip program and established clear guidelines for emergency situations. Last summer there was a substantial decline in violent crime among youth, attributed in part to the Mayor’s Summer Job Youth Program.

In the long-term, the city must partner with early childcare/education providers and collaborations like Cradle to Career. It will require dedication, careful understanding and a lot of other hard work, but the results will be outstanding.

In the meantime, economic development that produces good jobs with livable wages and access to healthcare along with a range of housing for all income levels will show that Evanston’s leadership wants to be a “Welcoming City.”

Question: What should the City do to promote economic development? Is it doing enough; should it do things differently?

I was elected to council 2009 and the economic recession had just begun. Many of the so-called “giveaways” were appropriate at the time and successful. But there were some failed. On the Economic Development Committee I have helped steer our funding away from grants to assistance with loans and merchant programs that provide assistance to whole business districts.

It’s time for us to seek out certain businesses to come to Evanston. What are the missing goods or services needed to make each business district more complete? We must be persistent in our efforts so all residents have access to good food and basic necessities for a good lifestyle.

I will continue to push for a downtown performing arts venue, campus joining al the women’s historical sites and capacity for small conventions. These and other large projects will keep our existing shops, restaurants and hotels thriving.

Question: What specific strategies would you propose to preserve affordable housing and to create affordable housing in all areas of Evanston?

I am the only alderman to serve on council’s Housing, Homelessness and Human Relations Commission. Amendments to our affordable housing ordinance have started to grow our designated fund with an expected $3 to $4 million by year’s end. This unrestricted money will allow us more creativity in supporting new housing and partner with builders who have Evanston’s best interests at heart.

An Evanston resident and developer has begun a mid-size apartment building near transit using new incentives provided in our amendments to the affordable housing ordinance. Rather than contributing to the housing fund, he elected to include four units of affordable housing in the development.

I have proposed that we continue to look for additional incentives for developers as well as looking for ways to build the housing fund in ways other than contributions from larger developments. Increasing the demolition tax on single-family homes is just one idea.

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

I believe Evanston’s Cradle to Career is a very promising initiative. Shared access to the same data will instill trust and cooperation between Evanston’s many service providers.

In my comments above, I listed this initiative as a long-term solution to ending youth violence. It will take time for the results of this collaborative effort to be fully realized. Early childcare and education is imperative, as we understand how important it is for all our children to enter kindergarten with the same capabilities. We also know that a child who reaches third grade with appropriate reading and other skills will most likely be successful in the years to follow.

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?

For 23 years I have heard the diverse voices of this community. There may not be a more important assignment for a mayor than to listen with an open heart and open mind.

There is a large and growing capacity among Evanston residents to take ownership of our problems and successes collectively. The city can assist in matters of equity, especially now, with a designated staff member to oversee such matters. While creation of this new position is a good step forward, I believe there are very positive movements in the private sector — especially among faith groups.

The mayor is in a unique position to gain the knowledge and understanding that these groups will offer. Special services and other collaborations among these groups have been increasing in both frequency and number of people participating. Just recently, I’ve participated in events hosted by Second Baptist Church and my synagogue, Beth Emet.

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

Mayor Tisdahl has guided through the process of becoming one of the nation’s most sustainable cities. Our city efforts started right at home with our civic center, automobile fleet, expanded recycling and more recently a utilities benchmarking process for medium to large buildings.

However, there is so much more we can and will do. We must expand our weatherization assistance program as it benefits everyone. Homeowners save on utility costs while reducing their carbon footprint. The city must continue to emphasize waste reduction. Programs that encourage us to “recycle, repurpose and reuse” cannot be emphasized enough.

We must also learn to share. Younger generations have learned to coordinate these efforts — setting examples for many of us — sharing living space, work space, automobiles and bicycles and much more. The city must promote these ideas and encourage companies like Divvy and Zipcar to grow in our community.

Question: What do you think about privatizing public spaces, such as the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, the Recycling Center, the Library parking lot, and the Harley Clarke Mansion? And why?

With the issue of privatization comes the question of selling or offering a property with a long-term lease. A long-term lease is usually preferable since the property remains an asset to the city. Selling a property is forever and we, the residents, lose control of what happens on the property.

I have fought to return Noyes Cultural Arts Center to its original concept as an incubator — helping artists much like any other business incubator. Maintaining ownership of the recycling center makes sense with its proximity to James Park. Expanding the park to this area will require significant soil remediation, but leaving the property in tact offers a home to a very profitable business.

I look forward to discussions about the library parking lot. Considerations at that site are more complex and include the preservation of historical destinations and maintaining much needed parking for the library and area businesses.

Question: How will you interact with State and Federal officials, given the stalemate in Springfield and the potential loss of funding for the City?

My relationships with our elected officials go back many years beginning with my work at Better Existence with HIV, BEHIV. We lobbied successfully for and received funding from state, county and municipal governments.

I have been an active volunteer in the campaigns of many of our current representatives and have done so because they are fighters and also good negotiators. I will continue to maintain both professional and personal relationships with our representatives in order to respond quickly to opportunities that may arise. I will also stress upon them that if sacrifices are to be made here in Illinois they cannot be the burden of one age group, one workers group and, most importantly, the most vulnerable residents of our community – children, struggling families and seniors on fixed incomes.

 

 







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