Kristian “Krissie” Harris in the city’s Second Ward and Juan Geracaris in the Ninth Ward can finally shed their temporary political status.

At the City Council meeting Monday night, May 8, Mayor Daniel Biss administered the what is known as the Athenian Oath of Citizenship and the oath of office to the representatives, who won strong support in the special election to continue their terms.

Biss appointed Geracaris to represent the Ninth Ward in February 2022, following former council member Cicely Fleming’s announcement she would be stepping down for personal reasons.

In November of that year, Harris was appointed to represent the Second Ward after Peter Braithwaite announced he would be leaving.

Krissie Harris is sworn into office Monday night by Mayor Daniel Biss. Credit: Richard Cahan

In accordance with state law, a special election was held April 4 to determine who would finish out the final two years of the City Council members’ terms until the next municipal election.

In the special election, Harris, an Oakton College educator, received 754 votes (or 54.64% of the votes cast) versus 564 votes (39.57%) for Darlene Murray-Cannon, a community advocate and member of the city’s Equity and Empowerment Commission. Patricia Gregory, a District 65 physical education teacher and member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, received 80 votes (5.8%).

In the Ninth Ward, Geracaris, a senior networks system engineer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, received 999 votes (68.05%) vs. 469 votes (31.95%) for Kathelyn “Kathy” Hayes, a former Cook County administrator.

Harris made reference to the bruising election. “It was a struggle, and if you lived in Evanston, if you paid attention to the election, it was very interesting,” she said. “And I believe I have thick skin.”

“I was born April 1,” she added, “so you have to have thick skin.”

Geracaris, a founding member of the group Evanston Latinos, observed that “many of you know I’m not very long-winded. So all I’m going to say is that being appointed to this position was a great honor, and I’m very humbled that the citizens of Evanston elected me to stay on two more years, and I really appreciate it.”

Mayor Dan Biss (fourth from the left) poses next to Council Member Juan Geracaris (9th Ward), his family and friends after the oath of office. Credit: Richard Cahan

Stephanie Mendoza, the city’s first Latino City Clerk, spoke emotionally of what Geracaris’ election signifies.

“You have that experience as a person who emigrated, a person who understands the struggle, and you do it with sensitivity and give people the respect and decency they deserve,” she said.

The mayor’s endorsement of Harris and Geracaris was viewed by many observers as giving their candidacies a big boost. On Monday, Biss told the two council members how much he’s enjoyed the opportunity to work with them.

“The thing I know is most important is that I know for sure that you both make me better,” he said. “I think most of the people up here on the dais would say that you make them better by asking good questions, by bringing up issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been brought up.”

Earlier in the swearing-in ceremony, the Rev. Michael Nabors, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, gave the benediction. He invoked the hope that council members “might be able to bring unity where there is disagreement, and help members of the Evanston community … to be patient, noting that in this eight square miles every single person in Evanston has a right to say and speak their mind – and they often do. So we pray that you would give them patience and kindness.”

Bob Seidenberg

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.

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