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The RoundTable invited the aldermanic candidates – Patricia Connolly, Diane Goldring, Jonathan Nieuwsma, Sari Kadison-Shapiro, and incumbent Donald Wilson – to answer four questions about their candidacy. Ms. Goldring, Mr. Nieuwsma, and Alderman. Wilson responded. The RoundTable will post the other responses as they are received.
Length of Ward Residency : He Wilson has lived in the Fourth Ward since 2003.
Tour of the Ward: I like to think that the Fourth Ward has some of everything that makes Evanston great. It’s hard to quantify the assets of a neighborhood, but I think that the most important asset is the residents.
Next would be the businesses here in the Fourth Ward. We have many small businesses, as well as a portion of downtown within the Ward boundaries. These businesses help create the feel and the experience of living in Evanston. They are an integral part of what makes the City great.
For as long as I can remember, we have had interesting, creative and forward thinking retail and restaurant operators bringing us great ideas and great experiences. We also have an incredible group of non-profits and faith organizations. They are serving our community to meet countless needs, from food and housing, job and mental health services. I think there are more than three top challenges, but I would say, as discussed below, the cost of living here, the challenges facing our business community and the lack of equity in opportunities.
Why He’s Running and What He Brings: I am running because I want to continue my work on evolving as a community. As Evanstonians, we interact on many levels as a community: at work and play, in school and at worship, at athletic & cultural arts events, in the pursuit of our hobbies and in support of the many social causes in which we believe.
That interaction is what makes us such a vibrant community. What’s wonderful about Evanston is that it fosters interaction. Evanston already has what many communities strive to create: neighborhoods where neighbors know each other and enjoy a ‘walk-to-everything’ lifestyle.
Nevertheless, there is more than one Evanston. It is time to break down the walls and barriers that exist as obstacles to equity and opportunity. I want to continue my work in furtherance of these aspirations.
Living here is my most important experience. I have served as a board member for Evanston non-profits and on the Zoning Board of Appeals. I have also been doing work beyond Evanston, such as organizing a team that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight Multiple Sclerosis. I am raising my children in Evanston and have always enjoyed what we have to offer in the way of parks, events and businesses. Professionally, I am an attorney in private practice. These experiences bring contribute to my view of where we are and how we can do better. In my personal and professional life, I have been actively engaged in problem solving. This requires hard work, diplomacy and the ability to bring people together. If reelected, I intend to continue to do this job with civility, compassion and an open mind. I believe that I have the skills, the desire and the motivation to help Evanston through this difficult period and emerge as an even stronger community.
Priorities: I think that a top priority must be managing the cost of living here. This is a challenge because we must also maintain the financial health of the City. We are burdened by a pension deficit that arose during a prior generation and we are working to bring that under control. We must balance financial needs while respecting the impact that financial decisions have. Everyone hates property taxes, but saddling the residents with endless fixed costs that can’t be avoided is a regressive way to address revenue. I have consistently fought to resist regressive charges and support the development of revenue generating enterprises such as the sale of water to other communities.
Evanston is proud of our diverse community. However, we still have persistent segregation and inequity. This must be talked about openly, and we must acknowledge past and present wrongs to find solutions. Solutions are not found in charity, but in the existence and availability of opportunity. In order to do that, we must also continuously look at existing policies and institutions to undo and correct the policies and prejudices that are negatively affecting our community. This includes continuing work on how the community is policed to ensure that we create an environment where everyone is treated equally and equitably.
While we have historically worked to assist our business districts, we must continue to facilitate creative opportunities for businesses to evolve and grow. Particularly as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and knowing that the retail and business landscapes are going to be different when we do.