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The RoundTable invited the Sixth Ward aldermanic candidates, Thomas Suffredin and Katherine Trippi, to offer a tour of the Third Ward that included its top three assets and top three challenges before the April 6 general election. 

Alderman Thomas Suffredin’s Sixth Ward

Our ward’s top three assets are our parks, our Central Street businesses, and our residents. Our top three challenges are maintaining our parks, supporting our Central Street businesses and providing services to our residents.

Our top physical City assets are our parks. Northwest Evanston is fortunate to have a great deal of green space. The challenge is maintaining the parks, City assets that often get shortchanged. Our parks drain poorly. Paths are often underwater or icy. Playground equipment is regularly in disrepair. The courts at Bent Park are in deteriorated condition. Pedestrian crossings to our parks are not as safe as they could be. 

“Friends of” groups like we have at Lovelace and Cartwright Parks are great examples of Evanstonian civic engagement, but they are taking on many duties that should be municipal responsibilities. As a City, we need to prioritize maintenance and upkeep of all our parks and facilities to prevent more costly and extensive future repairs. Evanston simply does not take good care of its stuff and we all ultimately pay more because of it.

The Sixth Ward stretch of the Central Street business district is a tremendous asset. Our challenge is supporting these businesses with parking, taxation and licensing policies that help them to flourish. 

The creation of the two special service areas along Central is a good start. Although it is in the Seventh Ward, I hope that we can make upgrades to Independence Park that will support the business district and offset some of what was lost with the Library Board’s decision to close the North Branch. Public Wi-Fi access and bathroom facilities should not be the responsibility of individual merchants. One of the many lessons of this past year is how valuable intentionally designed outdoor public gathering spaces can be in creating a sense of community. We have an opportunity to create something special on Central Street and distinguish that shopping district from other communities.

Our biggest challenge throughout Evanston, and in the Sixth Ward, in particular, is providing value to residents in exchange for the incredibly high tax burden. There are so many missing pieces in our roughly eight square miles property tax-paying “pie” that the burden on homeowners and businesses is substantial and likely unsustainable. This permeates everything that we do and attempt to do as a city. We are spending well beyond what we have and our council and staff have become accustomed to expanding our means to match our spending rather than reducing our spending to match our means. 

It has to stop. I have voted against bad budgets, property tax increases, sales tax increases, parking fee increases and I will not support continuing to increase the tax and fee burden on Evanston residents without being able to demonstrate that the City is being responsible with their money and competently providing services that residents want and need. Council members talk about Evanston’s unaffordability like there is no relationship to the taxes and fees we put on residents and it is completely outside of our control. The City isn’t the largest portion of the property tax bill, but we need to be aware that people are choosing or being forced to live elsewhere because of high fees and taxes.

Katherine “Katie” Trippi’s Sixth Ward

The top three assets in my ward are the Central Street Business District, Perkins Woods and three large city parks: Akerman, Lovelace and Bent Parks. Two top-quality retirement communities, Three Crowns and Presbyterian Homes. 

Top three challenges in my ward: Rising property taxes, housing costs and cost of living increases threatening to force us to move out of Evanston. Global pandemic decimating our economy, small businesses, and making it dangerous to go to work and to school. An increasing sense of entitlement and white privilege hampering efforts to amplify the voices and the needs of the oppressed and historically underserved in our community. 

About These Candidates:

The RoundTable’s questionnaire also asked why each candidate wished to be aldermen, what the duties and priorities of an alderman are, and how much time she or he would devote to the job.

Mr. Suffredin, and his wife Clare both grew up in the Sixth Ward and moved into their current home in 2013. They have four children who are nine, eight, six and three. 

Why He’s Running: “Evanston is my home, and I love this City. I also believe in good government – in a government responding to the needs of its residents and providing timely, competent services without creating roadblocks and barriers needlessly along the way. We have a lot of work to do, as a City and as a community. We can be that “City on the Hill” that some of our more optimistic residents talk about, but in order to get there we have to do the things a government has to do – and do them well. Our government needs to view residents as allies in a quest to create a vibrant, equitable, exciting community, and not make residents feel like antagonists to be punished, or children to be scoffed at. And as noted: We have to learn to live within our means.”

Priorities: “ My priorities will be responding to residents while working to push our City government to respond as well. Everyday things like garbage collection, snow plowing, water and sewer, and (one of my priorities last term) fair, understandable, and coherent parking policies, must be done well here. We should not continue to settle for “Skokie does it better.”  Living within our means starts with fostering and supporting a vibrant commercial district, both within the Sixth Ward’s Central Business corridor, and more importantly within our economic engine, downtown Evanston. Revenue comes when people want to visit, shop, dine, and entertain themselves in Evanston businesses. The butcher paper must come down – and we can help make that happen with better parking policies, attractive and inviting business corridors, and fair property tax burdens.  All this can be done with equity in mind as well – we can, we must support a thriving, equitable community because an equitable community that is not thriving only solves a part of the problem.”

Ms. Trippi has lived in the Sixth Ward for more than 30 years. She attended District 65 schools and Evanston Township High School. After graduating from the University of Arizona, she moved to the East Coast to work as a political organizer then returned to Evanston in 1991, where she raised her three children. 

Why She’s Running: “I want to be the Alderman of the Sixth Ward because I think I will do a better job than the current Alderman. I come with a proven ability to work with people. I thrive on building relationships and finding common ground. I am an optimistic, progressive and thoughtful leader trained in bringing out the best in others. I bring my own lived experience of political organizing, fundraising and youth development skills and will put them to work to benefit my neighborhood and my community.”

Priorities: “My top priorities on the council include: Supporting small businesses, Minority-owned businesses and restaurants in Evanston to ensure their survival and economic recovery from the devastating pandemic. Securing and sustaining affordable housing and affordable living in Evanston so that the character of our community continues to include residents of all backgrounds and income levels. Ensuring that the youth of Evanston have equitable access to the resources in this town to support their success as they grow into adults and give back to this community.”