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With the unanimous appointment of Luke Stowe as permanent City Manager, the most prominent vacancy in the Evanston’s government became the Second Ward city council seat – and a number of people are throwing their hats into the ring.

There is a crowded field to replace Second Ward City Council Member Peter Braithwaite, who recently resigned. (Photo by Genie Lemieux)

Twelve candidates posted online applications by the time the process closed Friday, Aug. 12, according to Mayor Daniel Biss. Residents of the Second Ward were invited to apply beginning July 15, when former Council Member Peter Braithwaite officially resigned.

Biss said one candidate withdrew and the city will release the full list of names after his office has verified all the candidates.

Who will choose?

As when Juan Geracaris was selected to fill the Ninth Ward seat after Cicely Fleming’s resignation, the mayor will appoint a candidate from the applicant pool pending a confirmation vote by a majority of sitting council members.

The newly appointed member will then serve Braithwaite’s term through spring 2023, when both the Second and Ninth Ward representatives will be required to run in special elections for the remaining two years of their terms.

Two applicants have publicly announced their candidacies: Darlene Cannon and Anya Tanyavutti.

Cannon is a community organizer who sits on the boards of the Democratic Party of Evanston, Citizens Network of Protection and Reclaim Evanston, as well as the city’s Equity and Empowerment Commission. She ran against the incumbent Braithwaite in 2021, ultimately finishing 71 votes short.

Activist Darlene Cannon, who ran a close second for Second Ward City Council seat last year, is seeking the vacancy for the position. Credit: Robert Seidenberg

She announced her intent to apply for the vacancy on Facebok on July 1, two weeks before the form opened.

“The 2nd Ward needs a representative that is committed to working efficiently and collaboratively with our residents, fellow council members, and city staff; a council member who will always put Evanstonians first,” Cannon wrote in her announcement. “I want to be that voice for the 2nd Ward.”

Tanyavutti has been a member of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education for six years, and previously served as the board’s president and vice president. After being appointed to fill a vacant position in 2016, she won the remainder of the term in 2017 and a full new term in 2019. She announced her application on Facebook on Aug. 12.

Anya Tanyavutti

“I believe in our community, when we link arms and put our collective and highest selves to work on an issue, we can get it right,” Tanyavutti wrote in her announcement “These are the reasons why I am so excited to throw my hat in the ring for alderperson – I believe there is opportunity to further the conversation of how Evanston can and should meet the needs of all of its residents, especially its most vulnerable.”

If Tanyavutti is appointed Second Ward council member, she would resign from the District 65 board.

Community and Employee Engagement Coordinator Jessie Mayo told the RoundTable that the public meeting for applicants to present themselves to the community is still being scheduled. The City Council is expected to vote on the mayor’s selection on Sept. 12.

Alex Harrison

Alex Harrison joins the RoundTable for the summer in between his undergraduate and graduate studies at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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  1. Please include the 2nd Ward boundaries in continuing reporting on this issue. Demographic and school information will be helpful, too.

  2. If there is one thing potentially worse than Tanyavutti as a School Board member it would be having her on the city council.

    The lack of transparency, poor management, and fiscal recklessness of the board has been spearheaded by Tanyavutti. That is the last thing we need on the council.

    1. Anya Tanyavutti takes action and that’s what we want! Her track record is documented for getting things done in Evanston. Her work has received award after award by some of the most prestigious organizations such as the NAACP North Shore with the President Reverend Dr. Michael Nabors handing an award to her himself for her leadership in this community. Are you saying the NAACP and Dr. Nabors made a stupid move? She has gone up against the worst hateful racists in this town that one could ever imagine. But guess what? She kept focused and made sure she stayed on the path to do the right thing. She listens to the community and works with the community. That’s a leader. She’s an intellectual. She’s fearless. And, more importantly, she’s a visionary who actually takes action! Tanyavutti took the baton of past leaders and worked with the community and her team to bring back a state of the art new school in the 5th ward. Tiki torches don’t seem to scare her…apparently. She just keeps going and getting things done for Evanston…no matter what. The tiki torch doesn’t seem to stop her. That’s a leader.

      1. I think Ms. Gardner’s response is illustrative of why many of us who have had criticisms of District 65 leadership are not excited by the prospect of Tanyavutti on the council.

        The real substantive issues of lax oversight, downgrading standards, lack of transparency, disdain of public participation are all but ignored and instead Ms. Gardner invokes a series of non sequitrs and impugns the commenter using cynical identity tropes designed to shut down criticism. (“Are you saying the NAACP made a stupid move”, No, Ms. Gardner, did you actually read my comment?)

        Those of us with kids in District 65 have seen this played out time and again by the board’s defenders on social media. Legitimate criticisms of the board’s practices and policies are met with an immediate maligning of the person bringing up the critique. It is a convenient way to avoid accountability. We really don’t need that on city council.

        1. All this tells me is Tanyavutti must have did some good, based on your attack of her. The tiki torches are out…

    2. I would add to this concern that Tanyavutti does not respond to written queries from constituents. I emailed her as President of the Board, my elected representative, and she never even acknowledged receipt of my email.
      Mary Anne Wexler