Evanston bid farewell to Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl on May 8; at the same time, Mayor Tisdahl bid farewell to colleagues she served with for years. It was a night about both nostalgia and change, as several members of City Council addressed their constituents for the last time.
“I have had the honor of working with the best darn City Council in the United States,” said Mayor Tisdahl, “And I can prove it because I’ve been to the U.S. Mayor’s Conference and I’ve heard them complain about their councils and I say, ‘My Council rocks.’ So thank you all for being incredible.”
She then went on to thank each present alderman, pointing out particular events shared over years of service to the community. For Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, she recalled a time when the two threatened to chain themselves to the doors of a building when the Housing Authority attempted to move residents out of Evanston while tuckpointing a building. It worked, she recalled, saying, “I liked working with you, and I’m glad we didn’t have to chain ourselves to the building.”
About Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite, she said, “I am proud of having appointed you,” then praised his work on behalf of minority business adding, “I think you’ve made a definite impact on this City, and I claim credit for it.”
She thanked Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, for “getting Trader Joe’s in town – people have wanted that for years. … You are an incredible alderman, and I really appreciate working with you.”
She praised Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, saying,” “You are terrific at calling all of us and walking us through issues.” She called his efforts “a terrific service to the whole Council” in that aldermen come to the meetings with a greater understanding of the issues.
Regarding retiring Alderman Delores Homes, 5th Ward, Mayor Tisdahl said, “I have talked about how wonderful you are so many times, but I am going to say, again, not only are you wonderful because of Gibbs-Morrison and all the work you have done with Evanston Own It, but you got me to go to church for three hours for one service. That was pretty amazing.”
Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Tendam was not at the meeting, attending a wedding in Ireland. The Mayor did not say anything about his service on the Council.
Turning to Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, Mayor Tisdahl said, “The Seventh Ward thinks I am brilliant because I appointed you. You are beloved in the Seventh Ward, and thank you for being such a great representative for them.”
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, sat next to the Mayor when she was Seventh Ward alderman, “It was so much fun when we sat together, I miss sitting next to you,” said Mayor Tisdahl.
She praised Brian Miller for holding Ninth Ward meetings and providing Ninth Ward input into City matters. “I really appreciate the work that you have put in making that happen,” she said.
About City Clerk Rodney Green, Mayor Tisdahl said, “Rodney, you may not make as many jokes as Ann, but I really have appreciated working with you and I think you do a terrific job.”
She reserved most of her time to talk about working with City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz. “I have met a lot of City managers … and you are the best,” she said. “I think that you are so good that people don’t appreciate how good you are, because they get used to you being in Evanston and being that good. But when you go around the rest of the country – Wally, you are spectacular.”
The Mayor also thanked her family, her assistant Dar Francellno, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and his wife, and the “best darn City staff. You have made my life incredibly much easier.”
Later in the meeting, the tables turned, as Ald. Wynne read a resolution honoring Mayor Tisdahl. The resolution cited as her accomplishments an expanded summer youth employment program, improved relations with Northwestern University including the creation of a skilled trades program, increased water sales to neighboring communities, aggregated power sales of 100% green energy, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 grant provided by the Obama Administration, bringing a Federally Qualified Health Clinic to the City, and adopting and enhancing Evanston’s Welcoming City Ordinance.
“None of that is as important as who you are as a person,” said Ald. Rainey, who broke down in tears when speaking. “You’re the kindest, most thoughtful, most hard-working, honest, decent, sharing, generous, inclusive, least judgmental human being I have ever met. The City is so lucky to have had you.”
“Now I am going to cry, too,” said Mayor Tisdahl.
Alds. Wynne and Rainey presented a ceremonial framed gavel in honor of her contributions to the City of Evanston.
The festivities were not over, though, as City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz stepped forward along with Public Works Agency Director Dave Stoneback to present Mayor Tisdahl with a sculpture made from a water plant bearing coupler that came from one of the shafts at the pumping station.
“It’s definitely a unique, cool thing,” said the Mayor. And with that, Council moved on to the call of the wards, and the retiring members and Mayor stepped aside to allow in the new.