Virginia Bell and Helen Degen Cohen, Paul Giddings, Penny Rotheiser, Richard Fisher and Richard Kirkpatrick at the Mayor’s Award for the Arts/State of the City lunch.Photo by Evanston Photographic Studios

Evanston will weather the storms battering the community and those blowing up from Springfield because Evanstonians will move the City forward, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said in the State of the City address on March 8.

 “We can create economic development, provide workforce development opportunities for all our residents, sell water to more communities, promote the arts, and have a peaceable city and much more. We can do all these things because we want to and because we have to. … We have to change,” she said.
Partnerships are one way of “reinventing ourselves,” she said, listing the Chamber of Commerce, Oakton Community College, Northwestern University, ORT, School Districts 65 and 202, the faith community, the non-profit community and state and national legislators as community partners.

Mayor Tisdahl reiterated some of the events of the past year – somber news, such as the shootings of Evanston youth (three of which were fatal), good news such as the ongoing revitalization of Howard Street, the new Trader Joe’s grocery store, the new Erie Family Health Center, the potential for the sale of water to additional communities and the $1 million state grant to help the City of Evanston and Northwestern University become an Illinois Gigabit Community.

Residents have worked to make the community safer, the Mayor said, but there are still too many guns in Evanston. She said the work of stopping violence in Evanston consists of strong law enforcement, increased programs for teens and workforce training. She urged her audience members to form block clubs and to become members.

Students who do not plan to go on to college should take advantage of the opportunities for career skills offered at Evanston Township High School, said the Mayor. Some who would like to attend Oakton Community College may find it too far or too difficult to reach by public transportation, but already OCC offers some classes at the high school, and the president of the college and at least one trustee are working to improve the enrollment rate of Evanston students there.

“The great news is that our youth want careers, want to learn and are doing well when given the opportunity,” she said.

 “We’ve made a covenant with one another to live in a diverse community because it is immensely rewarding. It is more fun, more vibrant and a continuing learning experience,” Mayor Tisdahl said.

She received a standing ovation for her speech.