New City Manager Luke Stowe. Credit: Supplied

Evanston City Council members voted unanimously at a special meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, to appoint longtime city administrator Luke Stowe as Evanston’s 10th City Manager, ending a nearly two-year search for a chief executive.

Stowe spoke briefly after the appointment: “I just want to say thank you to the Mayor and the City Council. I appreciate the support of staff and residents I’ve received. This is a tremendous honor and privilege to sit in this seat for this great city, and I look forward to getting to work immediately.”

Under council rules, six votes were needed for an appointment. With the Second Ward position currently vacant, nine council members voted, including the mayor who normally doesn’t have a vote on legislative matters.

Council members turned to Stowe after a series of unsuccessful national searches following Erika Storlie’s resignation in October 2021.

The latest occurred Aug. 2 when the city parted ways with its lone finalist, Urbana Administrator Carol Mitten.

Council members broke out in applause with the completion of the vote in a mostly empty council chambers, in a meeting that lasted a little more than 10 minutes.

Luke Stowe, Evanston’s new City Manager, at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Credit: Bob Seidenberg

Mayor Daniel Biss thanked council members for coming to an agreement “on this important critical step.

“I think the unanimous vote is a signal,” he continued, adding: “You know, it’s no secret that we’ve had a lot of thinking about regarding this question, because of deeply held beliefs that people just don’t quite see eye to eye – and yet everyone can get behind this decision, because we’ve seen Luke at work.

“We’ve understood his knowledge and his skills. And most importantly, by far, we’ve seen his ability to work with everybody; that when people disagree around Luke Stowe, it’s not the case that one of them gets shut down, it’s that everybody is heard, and we find a better way forward.

“I think our city needs that really badly right now.”

Stowe has worked for the city since June 2012, starting under then-City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz. He has held many positions, mostly on the technology side, including digital services manager, chief information officer and director of administrative services. Stowe also played a key role during the pandemic, helping citizens stay connected as the city moved to virtual broadcast with in-person meetings ruled out.

Under his contract agreement with the city, effective Aug.  15, Stowe will:

  • Receive an annual salary of $250,000 per year.
  • Receive deferred compensation of 8% of his annual salary to a qualified tax deferred plan funded bi-weekly.
  • Be reviewed by the City Council in an annual performance evaluation, using criteria developed jointly by the city and Stowe.

Voting in favor of the appointment were Council Members Clare Kelly, First Ward; Melissa Wynne, Third Ward; Jonathan Nieuwsma, Fourth Ward; Bobby  Burns, Fifth Ward; Thomas Suffredin, Sixth Ward; Eleanor Revelle, Seventh Ward; Devon Reid, Eighth Ward; and Juan Geracaris, Ninth Ward.

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.

3 replies on “After three failed searches, Evanston has a City Manager: Luke Stowe”

  1. It’s a shame the process took so long when a well-qualified, seasoned candidate was working in plain sight. Mr. Stowe seems to have the experience that a 21st century city needs. I am particularlly encouraged by his technology work during the pandemic, which, in partnership with Mayor Hagerty, was superb.

  2. Congratulations to our Council and Mayor for finally moving forward with a quieter hiring process. The city manager reports to them. The “public input” on the previous rounds was out of control. The League of Women Voters called it correctly in their letter when they said that it’s not the community’s job to decide on who is city manager. Hopefully the City learned moving forward. Public input is good on some issues, but ultimately, our city government is run by our elected officials who set the policies.

  3. Thank you, Round Table, for your thorough reporting. I hope our city can go forward more peacefully with Luke Stowe’s guidance.

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