The Sixth Ward offers one of only three contested races, and perhaps the most intriguing in that it features a rematch from four years ago. Mark Sloane, the CFO of a Chicago media marketing agency, will again challenge Mark Tendam, a graphic designer and the incumbent by virtue of his victory over Mr. Sloane (and Christopher Hart, who is not running this year) in 2009. The RoundTable spoke with both candidates.
Incumbent Mark Tendam says he believes he should remain on the job because, “I’ve been very effective; prompt and good at” responding to residents. “I follow up and get the appropriate City official involved,” he said.
On Council, Mr. Tendam says he has been a “voice of reason” who works to “build consensus. People don’t see what is happening behind the scenes.” He cited the Curt’s Cafe vote, 8-1, as one that he worked individually with Council members to get passed.
Mr. Tendam said his one-on-one people skills are a strength on Council and in dealing with individual members of the Sixth Ward. He said 80 percent of his time as alderman is spent dealing with individual constituent concerns. “People appreciate” the one-on-one attention, he said.
Regarding predecessor Eb Moran’s vote in support of the 708 Church St. tower, Ald. Tendam says, “I did not support the tower the first time” and five years is “enough time to pull a building permit.” He says he would not support an extension.
“We hear about the times Council does not follow a board’s advice,” said Ald. Tendam, but “by and large we do [follow their advice]. These are the experts in the field,” he said. The decision to keep several recent projects at Council rather than send them back to the Plan Commission were because of a basic “rule of thumb,” he said. “If something is scaled back” rather than expanded, “it does not need to go back. We need to encourage, not discourage” citizen participation, he said, suggesting a review of rules may be needed.
Infrastructure in the Sixth Ward and throughout the City is “weak and old – much of it is over 100 years old,” he said. “We know what we have to do. We have to find the funds to do it,” he says. The recent Central Street water main breaks were to areas actually scheduled for replacement this year, but emergencies pushed the project up by a year. The timing created an opportunity, he says, in that Central Street will be resurfaced, giving the City a chance to bump out sidewalks now encumbered by streetlights.
Ald. Tendam calls the now-dormant Chase bank at Crawford a “good proposal.” The bank building would be on a single parcel, but because the City requires a certain amount of employee parking, parking would have to go on a neighboring lot. The proposal for the City to own the lot and lease it back to Chase for parking is something the City does with regularity, he says.
On economic development, Ald. Tendam says “the enthusiasm for attracting new business can be in direct conflict with existing businesses.” His focus is on workforce development. If the City can educate and incubate a trained workforce in particular fields, he said, then businesses will be attracted. On the whole, economic development policy is “in transition right now.” It will continue to be fluid and change with the time, he said, with shifts away from grants. “We are on the verge of really rethinking the way we do things,” he says.
Ald. Tendam says he supports expanding commercialization of the lakefront, particularly in the lagoon area. He points to the building used primarily for storage, saying it would be a great place for a lakefront cafe. He says he supports making the lake “available to a broader range of Evanston residents. … A cafe would upgrade the entire area.” An open-air electric shuttle could bring people from the Church Street garage to the lagoon, keeping congestion down, he said.
Ald. Tendam says the City consciously decided to issue fewer parking citations after realizing that they were “on the verge of being really harassing.” He sees smart meters as a key since they will be sophisticated enough to accept discount cards for residents or other incentives. “We need meters to promote turnover,” he says, “but there’s a fine line between enforcement and harassment.”