The RoundTable recently interviewed the four candidates for mayor, asking them each the same questions: How long have you lived in Evanston? What is your experience in City government? How do you envision the role of mayor? Why are you running for mayor? Why should you win? How would you address the City’s financial crunch? How would you deal with Northwestern University? What is your favorite part of Evanston?
Jeanne Kamps Lindwall attended undergraduate school at Northwestern University. She returned to Evanston in 1974 and has been here ever since.
Ms. Lindwall’s experience in City government began in 1976, when she became the City’s first historic preservation coordinator. She worked in a number of capacities in the Planning Department and worked on the City’s 1985 comprehensive plan and the 1989 downtown plan. She spent 10 years preparing the City’s capital improvement program. The last project she worked on for Evanston was the library design competition.
Ms. Lindwall says the mayor is in a unique position to bring all the players in Evanston together. “We really need to create a community vision that we can use to carry the community forward over the next 10 to 15 years. Get everybody’s ideas out on the table, mush it all together and craft the vision. My model of building consensus is grass-roots.”
The mayor, Ms. Lindwall says, represents Evanston in the region and has the responsibility of bringing constitutent groups together. She sees the mayor’s primary role as running City Council meetings and making appointments to commissions and boards.
Ms. Lindwall is running for mayor because “I see a need and have a solution to offer. I don’t have any real aspiration beyond doing the job that I see – building the consensus, building the vision.”
She says she feels the City will be much more successful in securing outside funding if it has a comprehensive action agenda. She points to the development spurt over the last 15 years and the sense that the City felt it could build itself out of any financial troubles.
“The time has come to see if that model really succeeded, and also to look beyond that. … I want to help facilitate the decision-making process and make sure that the factors that ought to be considered by staff and City Council are being considered.”
Ms. Lindwall says she should win because “I think I can add value to the office of mayor and help Evanston evolve, go to the next level as a community. It’s a great place to live, it’s got a lot of potential. I think I can help advance the agenda, whatever we come up with. One of the important things is to have an agenda. Encourage the community to come up with an agenda and advance it.”
To address the City’s financial woes, Ms. Lindwalls says, “Having a strategic action agenda would make it easier to identify which areas we can try to work to secure resources from outside of Evanston or even grant funds from not-for-profits inside of Evanston.
“City Council and staff are really going to need to look at how we have been making budget decisions in the past. There has been as real reluctance to raise property taxes any more than absolutely necessary, so what has happened has been that in many instances there have been interfund transfers from places like the water fund, which had healthy reserves, into the general fund, and from TIFs into the general fund.
“There are major water projects that have to be undertaken that will necessitate a rate increase. Had we not been making the interfund transfer, we might have been able to avoid or at least mitigate the rate increase. We have to be much more thoughtful and holistic about how we approach municipal finance.”
Ms. Lindwalls says she feels she would be able to balance her work with her mayoral duties, should she win. Especially in getting things moving and rolling, there’s a lot of work to be done in Evanston,” she says.
Ms. Lindwall says she believes that, with a new City mayor and a new University president there will be a unique opportunity for a new dialogue with Northwestern. She says she is heartened to see the Northwestern master plan developed, because “a master plan really provides an opportunity for a point of departure.”
Asked her favorite sport in Evanston, Ms. Lindwall replied, “Besides my own back yard? Lighthouse Landing. I also like Shakespeare Garden, and the Lakefront, Central Street.
“Evanston is a wonderful community with so much going for it.”