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home : opinion : opinion/editorial May 25, 2017

5/3/2017 2:51:00 PM
Citizenship Takes Many Forms
Guest Essay By Steve Hagerty, Mayor-Elect


Thank you for granting me the privilege to serve as Evanston’s 21st Mayor. I can think of no greater urban ring city in America to lead. While we have our challenges, we have the talent, resources, knowledge, passion, and compassion to make this an even more just, vibrant, and livable city. We have the power to create a city that not only does good things collectively and for one another but one that can serve as a model to others around the country.

Citizenship takes many forms, besides voting and running for office. It can be volunteering at a school or non-profit. Helping a neighbor. Tutoring a child. Standing up for another. Working as a full -time public servant. Choosing to become a philanthropist. Fighting for a cause. Or, working on a political campaign.

It’s because of this level of citizen engagement that we are able to look so admirably on the work Mayor Tisdahl and the City Council, including Alderman and Mayoral Candidate Mark Tendam, have done over the last eight years – from increasing our Affordable Housing stock, to improving the city’s relationship with Northwestern, to expanding significantly the Mayor’s Summer Youth Jobs Program, to creating the first Federally Qualified Community Health Center in Evanston, to selling water to our neighboring cities. While these efforts will be recognized as Mayor Tisdahl and the recent City Council’s legacy, these accomplishments ultimately came to fruition because of the dedication, spirit, and hard work of many committed Evanstonians.

It is now our turn to imagine and ask what we will accomplish over the next decade. Will our legacy be a new Robert Crown Community Center? Will it be closing the achievement gap? Will it be job opportunities for all Evanstonians?  Will it be a revitalization of Harley Clarke mansion? Will it be economic development throughout all commercial areas in Evanston? Will it be a more inclusive City? A more equitable City? Will it be a decline in gun violence due to our effective Cradle to Career approach? Will it be an enhancement of the Arts in Evanston, including a Performing Arts Center? The list of what could be done goes on. The challenge is how do we create this future while working within our financial constraints. Collaboration, innovation, inclusiveness, and new thinking are tantamount.

What I do know is that those who were just elected, including me, can’t do it alone. Rather, it will take the same passion and hard work that residents offered each of our campaigns as well as the campaign for the Distrtict 65 Referendum. As Barack Obama said, “The future is not something out of our control; rather it is something we can shape through concerted and collective effort.”

I am grateful for all the efforts put forth by each Evanstonian who worked to try to get their candidates elected or referendum passed, and I am energized by the opportunities, seen and unseen, that await us individually and collectively. I am confident that through passionate debate, civil discourse, and respect, we will transmit this City not only not less but greater, better, and more beautiful that it was transmitted to us.





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