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  1. Equity principles are absolutely within the purview of this role. This is not an issue of politics but of morality, and a budget is a moral document. Our city manager has many opportunities to make proposals to Council about budgets and fund allocations, to recommend one expenditure over another, to be a standard-bearer while supervising personnel, and many other avenues of influence in solving community issues—-all of which can and should be viewed through an equity lens. We also have an Anti-racist City Resolution, adopted in 2019, that acts as an aspirational guiding principle for every member of our city government and our community. We can all play a part in making Evanston an equitable place for all, and to right the kind of historic wrongs Michele is talking about.

  2. The nature of the city manager role is managerial and operational. Indeed, the very creation of the position was intended to be apolitical. The aims the writer contends the city manager should strive for are policy goals and thus the purview of policy makers–the mayor and city council. If policy makers don’t understand this fundamental difference and by extension are not creating appropriate policy, then they are both unqualified for their roles and negligent in the performance of their duties.

    1. While I agree that policy is important in implementation, and appreciate the understanding of the role of policy – I do not believe that ensuring the welfare of City residents is a solely political/policy goal.

      Case in point: the Lakefront staff disaster impacted residents but was not a policy issue. The creation of a paid position to enforce the Leaf Blowing ban (as opposed to more equitable use of that money) was a managerial decision. The initial decision during the pandemic to close shelters, close public spaces, and offer the homeless outdoor portable toilets without offering alternate indoor shelter was a managerial decision (that decision was later changed due to public pressure.)

      Much like a blueprint, policy depends entirely on how it is implemented – and policymakers are limited in the ways in which they can direct a manager as well as the ways they can measure whether the City Manger has achieved those results. Therefore, ensuring that we have a City Manager who understands the issues and has a plan for them is critical.

      In my opinion, for better or worse, the City Manager has more power over what actually happens in Evanston than Council. Careful consideration of how candidates will wield that power is in order.