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Eric Young created a buzz early in Evanston’s election season, announcing he was running for Third Ward alderman, challenging Melissa Wynne who’s held the seat since 1998.
The owner of La Principal restaurant, located just across Main Street from the Third Ward, Mr. Young had received an outpouring of response from adjacent businesses and customers of the restaurant after he wrote an emotional post on Facebook earlier in the year, describing the hardships his employees were enduring under COVID-19.
His entry into local politics this fall was a little bumpy, with objectors’ filing a challenge that Mr. Young’s nomination papers were not properly fastened as prescribed under Illinois law.
After a Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the objection, Mr. Young quickly shifted gears, declaring his intention to run as a write-in candidate.
“That didn’t faze me,” he said on March 4. “I knew there would be a little bit of a challenge, but if the turnout [based on past elections] is going to be 1,200 voters, then the number I would need is surmountable. I thought that was an easy hurdle to overcome.”
What was not an easy hurdle was something more personal.
In an email to Third Ward residents on March 2, Mr. Young announced he had made the difficult decision to withdraw from the race.
“A myriad of personal circumstances are making it exceedingly difficult to devote the proper amount of time to this election,” said Mr. Young, who has been dealing with a family health situation the past few months. “Our community deserves someone that can fully devote themselves to this process, and that, unfortunately, is not me.”
Mr. Young, a former president of the Main-Dempster Mile Association, said that once his personal situation gets settled, he would be interested serving on a board, such as the city’s Economic Development Committee.
As Evanston resurfaces from the pandemic, a lot of the focus “has to go into downtown – revitalizing downtown,” he said.
“I think they have got to focus on getting small businesses, getting folks out of their basements, off their dining room tables, as I like to say, because everybody’s suffering – there’s no foot traffic, the landlord is suffering, the few viable businesses that that are still there are suffering – it’s just a snowball effect.”
One thing businesses have had going for them during the pandemic, is “the community is so supportive, it’s unbelievable,” he said.
“I think the community is 100% keeping us [La Principal] afloat,” he said, “and I know just from talking to our customers – like, maybe we’ll see them on a Wednesday and say, ‘(We) haven’t seen you in a while, and they’ll say, oh, yeah, we’re trying to spread it around. We went here yesterday, we went to this restaurant the day before.”