These are Ms. Murray’s unedited answers to questions submitted to all Fifth Ward Aldermanic candidates by the RoundTable.
Question: Please provide information on your educational background; employment/professional background; volunteer and civic activities; and other attributes that qualify you for the position of Alderman of the Fifth Ward.
I’m a product of this community I was brought home from Community hospital on July 21st and raised in the 5th Ward. I attended Willard Grammar School, Haven Middle School and graduated from ETHS. For several years, I lived in Germany with my former spouse and three children Phillip, Justin and Ashton Loryn. After my divorce, I decided to pursue career opportunities within the United States Navy and returned to Evanston with my family. As an United States Navy Veteran, I advocate fighting for fairness in government for all people. For the past 12 years I have continued to fight for access to affordable housing and against gun violence. I currently serve as the Co-Chair 5th Ward WEST and previously hosted the monthly Ward meeting every month over the past 11 years. In addition to serving the community I have planned the largest (National Night Out) event in our city for the 5th Ward for the past 11 years. I have been a visionary during my tenure I have proactively planned events addressing all residents with issues and concerns throughout the neighborhood. I have been responsible for at least one or more annual events from Peace Marchs to Job Fairs and community forums. During 2005 I worked with a group Evanston Youth Initiative (EYI) that headed the creation of the current City’s Youth and Young Adult Division that started the current Supervisor position. I was responsible for bringing the idea to the City of Evanston to host the two most successful gun buyback programs starting in the fall of 2012, nearly 50 guns were collected. When tragedy struck with the death of my son Justin to gun violence, I became more impassioned, wanting to protect other children and families from senseless violence. Which lead to the invitation to Washington D.C by Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky to represent Evanston as a mother who experienced the overpowering loss of a son. During this trip I held open conversations with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama about my efforts in the community to end gun violence and I enthusiastically lobbied with Senators and Congress to promote the previous Gun Bill.
Question: What would be your top three priorities as Alderman? What would you do to advance your priorities?
1) Strengthening Families:
- Creating affordable housing policies to support young families and the elderly
- Enhance and grow workforce training and employment efforts
- Revive parks and recreation assets
2) Economic Development
- Support small businesses and new business creation with business creation/improvement loan fund
- 5th Ward business real estate tax incentives for commercial projects to attract large scale businesses to our Ward.
- Create 5th Ward Tax Increment Financing
3) Community Safety
- Introduce more opportunities for Community Policing
- Police/Community Outreach and Engagement
- Provide resources for Neighborhood Block clubs increase communications with EPD Outreach participation.
Question: What are the top three challenges facing the Fifth Ward? What would you do as Alderman to address the challenges?
1) Adapting to ongoing cultures and the Ward is changing in diversity
2) Cultivating more economic development and employment opportunities
I will work with the community and City Council members to create housing policies that will help families to find affordable housing, and that help the elderly to retain their housing within the ward. I will also work with City Council to reprioritize city economic development funding so that they are more equitably distributed. Reviewing how we can add more Workforce development opportunities for age ranges of 18 to 30. I will work with City Council members to create community policing policies that implement the best and most creative national practices.
Question: What should the City do to address youth violence? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?
Recognition of the problem is merely the first step in a process of changing negative behavior patterns. If the process is terminated prematurely, the risk is a failure to achieve the goals of that process. With much of the violence occurring with our youth within the Ward, we need to address family situations and recognize that there are many components needed to resolve this problem. We must responsively begin to address and communicate our Youth problems in the ward. We can open dialogue to address Youth concerns and family constraints to proactively look at problem solving and conflict resolution. However holistically we must look for preventive and proactive methods with the aid of Police and community responses.
Question: What should the City do to promote economic development in the Fifth Ward? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?
Economic development can increase in the Ward by improving City efforts in strengthening existing Ward businesses and offer incentive training to business owners on; modern technology, business to business networking and updating marketing plan strategies. I think the City should try to feature 5th Ward businesses on their website and in regular City communications. Additional openly reach out to 5th Ward Businesses about the City’s commercial development programs and loan assistance for improvements.
Question: What do you think about police-community relations in the Fifth Ward? In the City?
Police community relations is a vital program and very necessary in our community. Improvements are ongoing and it has its challenges we are just not the same Ward as 20 years ago, our Police must adapt to the changes in our community. The Police should establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to build public trust in the community.
Question: Name some things the City should do to preserve or create additional affordable housing.
Bring back the First Time Buyer Program for families to purchase their own property in Evanston. Seek to collaborate with contract builders and buy vacant properties to be refurbished and sell back to families of lower income to promote diversity.
Question: Do you support Evanston’s Cradle to Career initiative and partnering with community organizations to increase opportunities for youth? Please provide your views.
Yes I support any organization that promotes positive change. I see a need for improvement in two areas such as expanding on the mentoring component and adding to a young father’s involvement program.
Question: How should the City promote equity?
One issue that I often hear is the lack of public access to City communications. Adding computer terminals for City information to all City Recreations Centers that would be an improvement for knowledge base awareness to seniors and lower income households. Not all residents have access to modern technology I think the City takes this simple amenity for granted. Of course the City has taken good faith steps for improvement but there is still work to be done.
Question: The City has taken steps toward becoming a sustainable City. What will you do as Alderman to promote sustainability in ways that will be affordable for all residents?
Start by expanding discussion to the Ward as to what steps should be a priority to make improvements. Our seniors and low income families could benefit from a Car Sharing initiative. Just one method of improving emission gases for environment protection. I applauded the City efforts for moving forward, hopefully we can look at bringing up alternative energy sources such as solar power or wind power for discussion.