Council members and our mayor are once again searching for a new city manager. The League of Women Voters, alongside other Evanston civic organizations, participated in interviews with the finalists in both of the last two searches, and community members were given the chance to participate in town hall meetings, as well. 

Their feedback was given to the council and the firms the council hired to do the search. Unfortunately, at the end of two separate searches, we don’t have a new city manager. With the resignation of our interim city manager as of mid-July, we believe Evanston city government is close to being in crisis mode.

Staff morale is low, with vacancies in many lead positions.

It is difficult to achieve the goals of our council members without the professional leadership and staff to set the parameters and guide them through the process.  Innovative vision can only be achieved if there are staff who have the time to do this hard work and to implement council goals.

The League believes in community participation. Our bylaws state that “the purposes of the LWVE are to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation in government.”

But it is not the job of the community to decide who the next city manager should be. That is the job of our elected officials. The City Council sets policy. Staff carries out the policy. 

We believe the council and the search firms understand what our citizenry is looking for in a city manager. Let’s have our elected officials interview candidates and make a decision.

Then as a community, we should support that decision so that together, the new city manager and council members can work collaboratively to achieve success in reaching our mutual civic goals that include a city that cares about all its residents, works toward equity in policies and programs and invests in maintaining a strong infrastructure. 


League of Women Voters of Evanston Executive Committee
Kathelyn Hayes, Betty Hayford, Mary Keefe Kelly, Lois Taft

6 replies on “Letter to the editor: City close to crisis mode without city manager”

  1. I didn’t get the memo. Since when is the LWV the agency that determines what resident activities should or should not be when it comes to the most significant decision that Council Members and the Mayor will make, the selection of the next city manager. To suggest that there has been opportunities for public participation is a very misleading statement. Sitting in a room without being able to speak is not participation.

    Sadly, the LWV has become a political organization in recent years, snuggling up to whoever sits in the mayors chair.

  2. It’s a self imposed crisis. Erika Storlie was never qualified to be Evanston’s City Manager and was gifted this position over two highly qualified Black women. Thank Steve Hagerty and his supporters on the City Council for what I believe was a decision based in racism/white supremacy.

    Following the departures of Storlie, Jennifer Lin, Lawrence Hemingway, Karen Hawk and others due to the scandalous sexual assault/harassment scandal, another poor decision was made to elevate the former City Attorney Gandurski – another inexperienced white woman to manage the City. She wasn’t qualified.

    Some in this community called upon the Mayor and City Council to use the International City Manager’s Association to obtain a referral to appoint an outside qualified interim City Manager. That individual could have been given a 2 year term to clean out the obvious corruption in our city government and conduct a proper search.

    My personal belief is that that path was not chosen because there is a fear that some unconnected and unbiased individual might air the city’s dirty laundry.

    The league’s suggestion continues to ignore the deep management issues in the City and the rush will not fix what is obviously broken.

    It’s not too late to implement the above suggestion and restore the sanity to city government. This would also help obtain a quality police chief and negotiate the pending union contracts. We don’t need to give into a manufactured panic and fear.

  3. If our process has been reason we are not getting candidates to “yes” then we must change our process.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with the LWV Executive Committee. While it’s good that people have been able to provide feedback, that doesn’t mean they get to make the final decision. Our elected representatives have that responsibility. Many times in Evanston, we churn on issues. At times, Evanston almost seems ungovernable. At this point, I’m concerned that many good candidates for city manager, after doing some research on the churn of the last couple years will avoid Evanston, or require a much higher salary to take on the challenge.

  5. I agree whole heartedly that we should let the elected officials carry out their work, especially in this case. Like most Evanstonians, I think, I want to have input and say in how things go and who’s in charge. But that’s why we have a democracy. We spoke. They were elected to carry out their work on our behalf. The search has been done with an effort to let interested constituents get involved. But we need some stability and if that means the city council moves forward at this point in a way that is more efficient, that seems in-line with what we elected them to do.

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