Evanston City Council members will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or otherwise show they have tested negative against the disease – facing censure or expulsion from meetings if they fail to comply.

Mayor Daniel Biss recommended the resolution to amend the city’s rules under a proposal to be considered at the Monday, Jan. 24 City Council meeting.

The meeting, to be held virtually, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday and will be viewable online at cityofevanston.org/channel or on Cable Channel 16.

In a survey conducted by the RoundTable last November, before booster shots were available here, all but two of the 10 council members – the nine ward representatives and the mayor – reported that they had received two vaccinations.

Two ward representatives did not respond to inquiries about their vaccine status.

Members of the Evanston City Council are seen at a recent meeting. (City of Evanston channel)

At the time, Council members had resumed holding in-person meetings, often working in close quarters with each other as well as with staff in closed executive sessions held in a small room off council chambers.

Mandatory requirement for city employees

The requirement that council members be vaccinated or tested mirrors an October directive from Ike Ogbo, the city’s Director of Health and Human Services, requiring city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The policy applied to all city staff, including seasonal and part-time workers, contractors, volunteers and interns.

“Getting vaccinated is the single most important action we can take to protect ourselves, our families, our coworkers and our community from COVID-19,” Biss said at the time.

In December Ogbo followed with a directive requiring proof of vaccination in order to patronize certain establishments, noted Nicholas Cummings, the city’s Corporation Counsel, in a memo, tracking the steps the city has taken.

Under the proposal up for consideration at the Jan. 24 meeting:

  • City Council members are to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof to the city’s Director of Health and Human Services.
  • A Council member is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the second dose series of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
  • Any Council member who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 shall submit to the Director of Health and Human Services proof of a COVID-19 test with a negative result taken within 24 hours of each City Council meeting.
  • Failure of a member of the City Council to comply with the rule is subject to censure by a majority vote of the members present or expulsion for the remainder of the meeting by a two-thirds vote of those present.

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

8 replies on “Unvaccinated Council members could face censure or be barred from meetings without negative COVID-19 test”

  1. Vaccinated people should be tested for covid as well because the vaccine does not prevent the spread of the virus to other vacvinated people, FACT! Stop pretending it does.

  2. Elected officials of Evanston should be the leaders in being vaccinated and mask wearing. My husband and I got our vaccinations as soon as we were able plus the booster. If more shots are required, we’ll get them also. We want to stay safe from Covid in its many forms and hope others do likewise. My husband had mild symptoms from omicron because he was vaxxed.

  3. According to the Roundtable’s earlier report on this issue, “Two Council members, Bobby Burns, 5th Ward, and Devon Reid, 8th Ward, have not responded to emails, text messages or follow-up calls attempting to verify their vaccination status.”

  4. They all should be vaccinated and had a booster. There should be discussion now on how to handle closed door type meetings in small rooms not be allowed. The Evanston Health Department, the former Mayor and I assume Mayor Biss are working hard to provide a safer Evanston through their many steps taken to get vaccines out to as many Citizens as possible. Don’t negate their commitment to a safer Evanston by not requiring council members and Evanston Staff all be fully vaccinated.

  5. It is incumbent on the Roundtable to determine and disclose which public officials and officers are fully vaccinated and which are not. Any choice unsubstantiated by specific credible medical advice can be viewed as selfish, or misguided by affiliation or of tremendously poor judgment. Any of these should subject that official to suspension and/or termination and at the least condemnation. The Roundtable has done of fine job of reporting and avoiding the subjectivity that destroys most other media outlets, but this is so clear a violation of public service that The Roundtable needs to take a rigorous and fact-based stand against such behavior.

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