Businessman Steve Hagerty was elected mayor on April 4 with a narrow margin of victory that was less than one percentage point – 50.47% to 49.53%. The results are still unofficial.

“I’ve always said you’ll never know exactly why you won an election or why you lost an election,” a jubilant Mr. Hagerty told supporters who filled Prairie Moon restaurant after the polls closed. “This election truly was a nail biter. It demonstrated that we really had two very strong candidates running for Mayor of Evanston,” he said.

In a speech that was nearly 30 minutes long, Mr. Hagerty acknowledged, “Something that will be said is that Steve Hagerty poured money into his own campaign,” but he went on to say that supporters in the community donated more money to his campaign than to that of any other candidate. “The fact is we ran an incredibly positive campaign. I was comfortable with losing or winning a positive campaign of integrity and one that was based on values.”

Mr. Hagerty expressed gratitude for what he said were more than a thousand people in the community who supported his campaign, knocking on doors, using social media, standing at train stations, and hosting coffees and events at their homes and businesses.

“We built a foundation for what we did tonight. We have a professional campaign manager and a team that won this tonight,” said Mr. Hagerty. He said his campaign team worked hard to ensure that the more than 20 paid campaign workers reflected the diversity of the Evanston community.

Mr. Hagerty thanked the elected officials who supported him, recognizing Alderman Peter Braithwaite as the first official to urge him to run for Mayor. He offered special thanks to three of his predecessors as mayor, Elizabeth Tisdahl, Lorraine Morton, and Jay Lytle, for their support.

He referred to Lorraine Morton, saying, “It’s hard to be Mayor in this town when you follow in the footsteps of a totally beloved and historic mayor. She inspires lots of people to consider public service.”

He praised Ms. Tisdahl for working successfully with Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro to improve relations between the community and the university. “We have one of the finest universities in the world,” Mr. Hagerty said, adding, “This campaign was in part powered by NU students.”

In concluding his remarks, Mr. Hagerty focused his praise on his opponent, two-term 6th Ward Alderman Mark Tendam, pointing out that the votes were split nearly 50-50 between the two candidates. “If I wasn’t elected Mayor, I wanted Mark Tendam to be Mayor of this town,” he said.

“My promise to all the people who supported Mark Tendam and his very well-run campaign is that I’m going to work hand-in-hand to represent everyone in every ward in Evanston.”

The new Mayor-elect closed by saying, “I fundamentally believe there is opportunity in this world. Whether you are in business or in the public sector, I seek to listen to you when you see opportunity to formulate a plan to create a greater and better Evanston.”  

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.