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Walter Bobkiewicz, Evanston’s newly appointed City Manager, made an appearance at City Council on June 22, putting a face to the name that had been on Evanstonians’ minds since his appointment nearly two weeks ago.
At the June 22 City Council meeting, Mr. Bobkiewicz thanked the aldermen and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and said, “I look forward to working with you.”
Mr. Bobkiewicz’s salary will be $185,000 annually with an additional $10,000 in annual deferred compensation to a qualified tax-deferred plan. This amount will be reviewed annually with his annual performance evaluation. He will receive a car allowance of $500 per month. He will also be able to participate in the same health and dental insurance coverage, retirement plans, holiday and sick day allowances and other benefits as other executive staff of the City. He will live in Evanston and will receive an interest-free loan of up to $200,000 from the City. He will begin work on Aug. 3.
In an earlier interview with the RoundTable, Mr. Bobkiewicz said he was ready to return to his Chicago-area roots and get down to City business, moving forward toward addressing the City’s issues. “I was born in Chicago and I grew up in Glenview and Deerfield, and I always thought it would be good to come back,” he said.
Three challenges Mr. Bobkiewicz identified in that interview are the financial squeeze, the town-gown relationship and the need to continue to support City staff.
“Evanston has to come to grips with its resources and make the most of them – balance the resources available and the level of services it wishes to provide,” he said.
Regarding Northwestern University, he said, “I’m very excited about a fresh start with Northwestern University – a new mayor and a new [University] president. … It’s clear that the City Council wants a better relationship.” In the third area, City staff, Mr. Bobkiewicz said, “They have been through a lot with the many retirements over the past several months. I’m really struck by the quality of the staff – it’s a great corps of people.”
Asked about his style of governing, if any, Mr. Bobkiewicz said he sees his role as working with staff to understand problems. “Staff don’t need to be micromanaged; they need to be supported,” he said. He added he has an “open-door policy.” Saying he had been cautioned about Evanstonians’ activism by some of his contacts in the Chicago area when he said he was applying for the position of City Manager here, Mr. Bobkiewicz told the RoundTable, “I think civic involvement is very attractive. … One of the things I like about being a City Manager is that we’re in the business of democracy.”