Evanston attorney and community activist Jeff Smith has confirmed that he and supporters have gathered hundreds of names on petitions to nominate him for mayor of Evanston, Illinois, and that he expects to file candidacy papers for the April 4, 2017 consolidated election by Dec. 19.
A longtime Evanston resident and former City attorney in Chicago, Mr. Smith was educated at Northwestern University and Harvard Law School. He served as General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources under Governor Pat Quinn. He was also a member of the Evanston wind-farm study group appointed by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and then on the state offshore wind council whose recommendations led to new state law sponsored by Evanston legislators.
Mr. Smith was an early proponent of green building and renewable energy, and an opponent of privatizing city assets such as the Chandler and Noyes centers and the Harley-Clarke lakefront property. As founding president of the Central Street Neighbors Association, Mr. Smith was a proponent of form-based zoning and an ardent advocate for sensitivity to neighborhood character and resident concerns in development. He worked with the Evanston Public Library Friends to preserve branch libraries, secure more independence for the library board, and urge expansion of services to the City’s west side. Besides civic leadership, Jeff Smith is also known for volunteer leadership with youth sports teams, Scouting groups, and school parent groups.
“I love Evanston. It’s a great town; let’s make it an amazing town. Evanston should be a leader in Illinois, not a follower; to do that we need to show how government can work better. The passion and creativity of our people are a fabulous asset; city government can do a better job of listening. The best thing I’ll bring to City Hall is having heard and respected what’s on residents’ minds since first knocking on doors here 40 years ago,” Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Smith previewed seven initial principal points for which he would advocate as candidate and mayor:
• Protect the Lakefront from environmental hazards and piecemeal privatization
• Turn Evanston Deep Green with a timetabled commitment to carbon-neutrality
• Preserve the Unique Character of Evanston by more thoughtful development
• Work for Real Diversity through proactive marketing and honest discussion
• Keep Evanston Affordable for younger, lower-income, and fixed-income residents
• Invest in the Arts not only for arts’ sake but as an economic strategy
• Foster a Culture of Peace from the international level to Evanston’s own streets