By a 7-0 vote, Evanston City Council members approved Mayor Daniel Biss’s appointment of Juan Geracaris to fill the Ninth Ward City Council seat. Geracaris is believed to be the first member of the city’s Latino community to serve on that legislative body.
Geracaris, a first-generation Argentine immigrant, has lived and worked in Evanston for 29 years. He is a senior network systems engineer in the Kellogg School of Management.
He is also a founding member and current vice president of Evanston Latinos, a nonprofit organization formed to help Latino families during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a city release issued after Biss announced his appointment. Geracaris has also served as the Oakton PTA vice president, is a member of the Next Steps Evanston planning committee and sits on the city’s Skate Park Advisory Board, the release said.
He will fill a seat formerly held by Cicely Fleming. Fleming, the only Council member to run unopposed in the April 2021 municipal election, announced in December she would be stepping down as council member for the south Evanston ward. She said she hoped to devote more time to social justice issues and said the death of her mother, Marsha Cole, a respected housing advocate, was a factor in her decision.
Though Evanston is a home-rule community, its municipal code points to state election law for governance in these matters. Geracaris will have to run for the seat in 2023 – in the April general municipal election or, if a primary election is required, in February of that year. The 2023 election will determine who will serve for the remainder of Fleming’s term, which runs until April 2025.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, Biss departed from protocol and turned over the swearing-in duties to City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza, who made history herself last year as the City’s first elected Latina City Clerk.
“I’ll try not to cry,” Mendoza said, before asking Geracaris to raise his right arm to take the oath.
After the swearing-in, the mayor told Geracaris that “amid a number of wonderful candidates, community-service-minded Ninth Ward residents, you stood out to me as not only so perfectly aligned with the ward and the community’s values, but thoughtful and inclusive and collaborative and level-headed. And your presence here brings what I think we have to acknowledge is far, far, far overdue representation to a community that has not always felt included in this city, and the community’s inclusion I think will be advanced by your presence on this dais.”
Taking his new seat, Geracaris thanked the mayor and council members for the opportunity.
“My friends and family know that I’m a man of few words,” he said. “I just want to thank my friends and family and the community for all the support. I couldn’t be here without all these people.”
Absolutely wonderful news. Juan is a stand-up guy and empathic human and will serve his ward very, very well. Go Juan!
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