The RoundTable invited the Second Ward aldermanic candidates, Peter Braithwaite and Darlene Cannon, to offer a tour of the Second Ward that included its top three assets and top three challenges before the April 6 general election.
Darlene Cannon’s Second Ward
The Second Ward is a diverse ward, certainly. However, there are still patterns of racial and class segregation, when you look at the overall population, despite perceived integration. The three top assets in the Second Ward are ETHS, Dodge/Dempster Plaza and Mason Park. Similarly, the three biggest challenges are affordability, safety and the health and economic implications of the pandemic.
Alderman Braithwaite’s Second Ward
The Second Ward is the most racially and economically diverse ward in our City of Evanston. Our boundaries stretch from the canal to downtown Evanston. We are blessed with large business districts, four parks and residential homes of all types. The varied perspectives, voices and lenses this diversity brings, I believe is are our greatest asset. Together “We Are One Community” and we represent the true “Soul of Evanston.”
The Second Ward encompasses two major shopping centers, an industrial corridor, and a footprint in downtown Evanston.
Our Second Ward became a food desert with Dominick’s departure, but working with our city staff, local businesses and neighbors, the Evanston Plaza has since doubled its occupancy and reestablished the brand of the area.
How did we do it? Over the past two terms and with the support of local business and residents, we created two new Business Associations, West Village and West End Industrial Area with Ted’s, Heartwood Center, Valli, Starbuck’s, Temperance Brewery, British Swim School, Erie Family Health Clinic and others.
In addition, the Main Street Plaza has also expanded occupancy. With the input of neighbors, we improved traffic flow on the corridor surrounding the mall. This year we have added four new businesses and created a new Business Association.
Our Parks – Grandmother, Penny Park, Mason Park and the newly renamed Harbert-Payne have all been built and improved with input from the neighbors and kids. Each has a unique character and enriches our ward and community in many ways.
Some challenges have been the following: COVID recovery, saving the Evanston Health Department from the budget chopping block positioned us to be able to distribute vaccines. As more become available, we must work with the Director of the Health Department to ensure vaccinations are delivered in an equitable manner.
Part of COVID recovery includes Economic Development. We must support our small businesses and entrepreneurs to secure jobs for residents and bring in money to secure financing for essential services.
Affordable Housing is an ongoing concern for our ward. I will collaborate with housing advocates and create innovative ideas, that will lead to better policies and increased housing equity. We must continue to look at unconventional housing options like Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), Tiny Homes and Modular units to increase opportunities for low to moderate-income families.
About These Candidates:
Ms. Cannon, has lived in the Second Ward her entire life. She was the committee lead for Timber Ridge PTA, vice president of Ways and Means and a Justin Wynn board member. She has worked in community campaigns including the Harley Clark Community, Evanstonians for a Responsible Robert Crown, Evanston Voter Initiative, Feeding the Village Evanston, the Poor People’s Campaign and Reclaim Evanston.
Why She’s Running: “I want to be alderwoman of the Second Ward because I want to bring systemic change to the community. I think this moment that we’re in, calls for a shift. There is a particular level of political engagement, transparency, accountability and overall care that is currently lacking in our ward. I hope to fill that political void by fostering community dialogue, making information to the community accessible and comprehensive and ensuring residents’ input on legislation and policies. What I believe fundamentally, we should all have input on decisions that will impact our lives. Lastly, I invite and welcome community feedback. If people are expecting to transform communities, they should be the change they want to see. My lived experience as a Black woman that comes from generations of Black people that helped make their community a better place and they organized around issues that impacted Black and working-class people. And they did this with both integrity and great pride. I am connected to these traditions, in various ways. This experience and history are the sort of characteristics that make a worthy elected official, it determines the connection to the people they serve.”
Priorities: “Aldermanic duties vary across the ward. But the people’s concerns should be prioritized, in addition to community communication, dialogue and fostering political awareness. I want those that live in the Second Ward to be well-informed and up-to-date on proposals, policies and legislation at the city and ward level. I plan to make sure the needs of my constituents are met, in whatever time that takes; I am committed.”
Ald. Braithwaite, grew up in the Second Ward as the youngest of five and the son of Jamaican immigrants.
Why He’s Running: “I want to be re-elected so I can continue to serve and advocate for the residents in the Second Ward and build on the progress we’ve made. I want to leverage our community strengths, to rebound from this pandemic, and heal from the effects of a contentious national election. I want to draw from my track record of leadership, service and advocacy. I have experience navigating local government, and a strong ability to work collaboratively with others to move the Second Ward forward.”
Priorities: “COVID relief must be a priority. We must focus on the physical and mental health of our residents, and the fiscal health of our City. Our Families: I will continue to work in partnership with local agencies and organizations that support our community, including our most vulnerable families. I will maintain a laser focus on the needs of our children, young adults and seniors. Neighborhood Safety: I will continue to make violence prevention and safety in our Second Ward and citywide my top priority. I will work closely with our first responders to ensure needed services are delivered with equity. Economic Development: I will continue to work to attract businesses that will increase our commercial tax base and create quality jobs for our residents. I will advocate for policies that increase our local spend opportunities for our small business owners and entrepreneurs. Housing Accessibility: I will continue to advocate for more affordable housing options for our residents. I will collaborate with housing advocates to find innovative ideas that will lead to creating more housing to meet our diverse needs.”