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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. Mr. Nieuwsma, Ms. Goldring, and Alderman Wilson responded. The RoundTable will post the other responses as they are received.
Length of Ward Residency: Almost thirteen years. My wife and I moved here in February 2008 and our kids are Evanston natives.
Tour of the Fourth Ward: Our tour of the Fourth Ward will include three asset laps and three challenge laps so put on some comfortable walking shoes. Or better yet let’s ride bikes!
Our first asset lap takes us through the several business districts that contribute so much to the character and economic vitality of our community. Main Street for tacos, a bottle of wine, some children’s books, a new guitar, and some old rocks. Dempster Street for a quick dance lesson and some farm-fresh produce while your iMac is repaired. Davis Street for a new bike helmet, some hardware, and a donut. And then downtown for some sushi and a massage, or maybe some chicken curry and a beer. The unique small businesses in our ward are among our best assets.
On our second asset lap we’ll notice all the people who live, work, worship, and learn here: the business owners, the firefighters, the teachers and students at our six schools, the patients in residential rehab, the congregations at our synagogue and churches, the musician who practices outside in the summer, the Northwestern students who are here for a few years, and the families that have been here for generations. Our ward includes residents of every demographic and income level who are truly our community’s most valuable asset.
Our third asset lap ends at the new Robert Crown Center. A brand-new facility with ice rinks, basketball courts, community rooms, a branch library, and an awesome sports field—a real community asset. What’s not to love!
For the first challenge lap we’ll stay right here at Robert Crown. It’s a great facility to be sure, but was it worth the price considering other areas of Evanston are sorely in need of investment? And if the City is serious about sustainability, where are the solar panels and cutting-edge energy efficiency? I’m listing Robert Crown as a challenge because it exemplifies the competing priorities that the City must juggle: community input, racial equity, environmental concerns, and budgetary constraints.
For the second challenge lap we’ll go back to everyone we met before and ask them what’s on their minds. If they’re like many of the folks I’ve been talking to, they’re concerned about how much it costs to live here, how they’re being treated by police, and whether their voices are being heard. Managing the varying wants and needs of a diverse community like ours requires a commitment to equity and engagement which can be challenging in the best of times.
Our final challenge lap is back to the small businesses we visited the first time around, many of which have been devastated by the pandemic economy. One of our greatest challenges here in the Fourth Ward is doing everything we can to support local business and encourage a thriving local economy that generates and retains wealth locally.
Why He’s Running and What He Brings: I’m running for alderman so I can continue the work I’ve been doing for more than a decade to make Evanston more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.
As president of Citizens’ Greener Evanston with its 2,500+ members, I’ve been deeply involved in advocacy for climate action and environmental justice. I led CGE’s campaigns for Evanston’s community choice electricity aggregation program (critical to our carbon reduction goals), for our Energy Efficiency Benchmarking ordinance, and for the Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP) which calls for zero carbon and zero waste by 2050. I also led CGE’s advocacy on the city budget, working to make sure that sustainability and environmental justice programs were adequately funded.
As chairman of the City’s Utilities Commission, I’ve worked with City staff on a number of issues: implementing the electricity aggregation program, developing the energy efficiency benchmarking ordinance, and engaging with ComEd and Nicor to ensure reliable service to Evanston residents.
Professionally, my background as an engineer and experience as a business consultant in the renewable energy industry will bring technical and business expertise to the City Council.
Priorities: My top priorities are the four E’s for Evanston’s Fourth Ward: Equity, Environment, Economic Development, and Engagement.
Equity: I’ll work to dismantle structural racism by fully implementing our groundbreaking reparations program, making sure our public safety budget reflects the values of our community, and addressing affordable housing.
Environment: I’ll make CARP implementation a priority of the City Council and will support an environmental justice ordinance.
Economic development: I’ll prioritize the people of Evanston over corporate interests and support policies that encourage and promote small businesses which create wealth locally and retain it in our community.
Engagement: I’ll be an accessible and engaged alderman, hold regular ward meetings, and seek out all the voices in the community that need to be heard. I’ll be transparent in my decision making.
What He Would Do As Alderman: Aldermen have the duty and responsibility to make sure that the voices of all their constituents are heard and considered, to work for the benefit of the people of Evanston, and to wisely manage the City’s financial resources.
I expect to spend as much time as it takes to do the job right, certainly more than Monday night Council meetings. I’ll hold regular ward meetings, host office hours (online until we can do it in person) and will meet individually with constituents whenever required.