Nearly 40 years ago, when we were both young mothers, a mutual friend (was it the late Karen Chavers?) called and asked me whether I would introduce Ann Rainey to my neighbors. I had never met Ann, but was told she was running for Eighth Ward alderman and would appreciate an hour or two of my time. She came to my house, we chatted a while, and I was awed by her energy and her grasp of local issues.
We spoke with those neighbors who were available, and the rest is herstory.
Over the years Ann and I have butted heads more than once. Not for a nanosecond, however, did I doubt her 24/7 commitment to our neighborhood and our ward. Prior to her election, the south end of Evanston was treated like the City’s unfortunate step-child: zero attention, even less investment.
Since Ann became our advocate, new businesses appeared on Howard Street. Police enforcement ramped up. The Jewel/Best Buy/Target/Office Max tiff center opened.
Ann established the Great Eighth message board. She was always available and accessible.
Her collaboration with the aldermen on the Chicago side of our border led to problem-solving and even more investment.
And now, even though she’s no longer in office, the Howard Streetscape renovation is underway.
Ann Rainey’s professional area of expertise has always been affordable housing. It is so fitting that the 60-unit senior affordable apartment building now under construction at 1015 Howard Street bears her name.
Thank you, Ann, for your decades of dedication to Evanston’s Eighth Ward.
— Judy Fradin