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What is the most pressing issue facing the city in 2017?
Evanston’s greatest need is more jobs and better jobs. Providing accessibility to appropriate training and jobs needed by local employers will give Evanstonians young and old a sense of pride and an livable wage. As a member of the City Council, I’ve been supportive of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Job Program and development of apprenticeship programs at Evanston Township High School and Northwestern University and the results are becoming very clear.
As mayor, what is something you’d like to change immediately?
I want to take the lead in building a stronger, more inclusive dialogue among ALL Evanstonians. I believe there are very positive movements in the private sector — especially among faith groups. Special services and other collaborations among these groups have been increasing in both frequency and the number of people participating. I have participated in events hosted by Second Baptist Church and my synagogue, Beth Emet.
What would like to see done with the Harley Clarke Mansion?
I believe we should find a way to preserve the Harley Clark Mansion for both public and private use. The ownership of the mansion must remain in the hands of the city, but the burden of restoration and maintenance CANNOT be that of the Evanston tax payers. The mansion could be home to a restaurant, artist’s gallery, even an all-Evanston gift shop for residents to sell nonperishable goods. It can provide entertainment space of public and private events and offer offices for community groups.
What are your thoughts on the Dodge Avenue bike lane and how the city has catered to bicyclists in recent years?
The Dodge Avenue bike lanes are the result of inadequate funds to do the job properly. The Dodge bike lanes are welcomed by many riders but clearly a difficult addition for emergency vehicles, busses and people with mobility issues. I look forward to the inclusion of bike lanes on Sheridan Road as funding has allowed us to plan them in a way that provides direction and visibility for pedestrians and automobile drivers.
How would you address the crime problem facing some neighborhoods in Evanston?
There are short-, medium- and long-term approaches that we have begun to implement or are already implementing in order to address youth violence. In the short-term, the City and Police departments have worked with the school districts to improve and increase security within the high school and respond to incidents around the school. We have upgraded exterior lighting, implemented an anonymous text-a- tip program and established clear guidelines for emergency situations. Last summer there was a substantial decline in violent crime among our youth, attributed in part to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program. This kind of mid-range approach is a work in progress. Our dedicated city staff will continue to build on their success providing more work opportunities for our youth. In the long-term, the city will continue to partner with early childcare/education providers and larger collaborations like Cradle to Career. It will require dedication and careful understanding and a lot of other hard work, but the results can be outstanding.
There’s been a perceived disconnect between the Evanston Police Department and the city’s African-American community. How much of a problem is this and what solution would you offer?
I believe the perception is very clear and fairly accurate. The increased use of neighborhood (beat cops) and Problem Solving Team officers are producing positive results. We need to monitor and possibly reassess our police services in the African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Recent changes in policies and procedures will be helpful when problems arise.
We’ve seen a few businesses open and close in a short time frame downtown. What is the key to not only attracting businesses to Evanston but keeping them here as well?
I believe the time has come that we can be more selective in asking businesses to come to Evanston. What are the missing merchants or services we need to make each business district more complete? Do we need another burger place or boxing studio? We must be persistent in our efforts so all residents have access to good, affordable food and other necessities for a healthy lifestyle.
Our downtown is flourishing with new restaurants, brew pubs, and hotel rooms. But we need to make sure these venues stay busy by making our city an even more popular destination. I will continue to push for a downtown performing arts venue, a woman’s history campus, and other large projects that will bring people to Evanston to work, learn, and play.
Evanston is known as a progressive leader and a city ahead of the curve in many areas. Are you proud of this trait?
Our city’s status as a progressive leader is one of my greatest sources of civic pride. We have a history of leading by example. When the City of Chicago struggled to pass an ordinance protecting the civil rights of gays and lesbians, Evanston passed an ordinance that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) — and that was twenty-some years ago. Our achievements in environmental protection have been acclaimed worldwide. And on the economic front, our TIF (tax increment financing) programs have served us well while other communities struggle in their attempts at tax increment financing.
How would you describe the city’s partnership with Northwestern University? Has this partnership been effective and would you like to see it continue?
The timing of a relatively new council (5 of 9 members) coincided with the installation of a new president at Northwestern University, eight years ago, and we have since built a positive and productive relationship. We are no longer included on the lists of worst town-gown communities. And Northwestern’s presence throughout Evanston — ETHS, public events, non-profits — is undeniable.
Are there enough social programs in Evanston and are the ones here effective?
We are rich with social service programs — effective ones, too. But there are missing links that enable residents to access the services they need.
There is also a strong need for case management. A needed service becomes useless if there are barriers to receiving it. Too often, transportation, childcare and other services are lacking.
As mayor, how would you address the community’s call for free beach access during the summer months?
We should help provide beach access to all residents in need. But we need to provide it in a manner that maintains our beaches as safe and enjoyable.
We must also push to improve our beach access for people with disabilities and those who care for them. Another consideration for beach access is transportation. A trolly-like shuttle that makes a loop to and from the beaches would benefit many people and reduce lakefront congestion.
Also, add your political background, experience and any other unique qualifications that make you the best candidate for mayor of Evanston.
Volunteer and Civic Engagement: I have extensive experience in community action and leadership. I became a board member of Better Existence with HIV (BEHIV) in 1996, serving as President of the Board from 1997-2002. I was also a member of the McGaw YMCA Board, serving as their fundraising event co-chair for several years, as well as on the Y’s Residence Committee; in addition, I’m a longtime board member and committee chair of the Democratic Party of Evanston.
I am a graduate of the Evanston Community Foundation’s Leadership Evanston program (2004), served on the steering committee of Leadership Evanston. I’m also a graduate of Evanston’s Citizen Police Academy (2010).
I’ve served two terms as 6th Ward Alderman on the Evanston City Council over the last seven plus years, and they’ve been very productive. I am proud to have taken a leadership role on many of our initiatives:
- We amended the Affordable Housing Ordinance with incentives for builders to include a range of housing options on site, or opt to make a significant contribution to the housing fund. By the end of 2017, funds received will exceed three million dollars.
- We reorganized the Evanston Animal Shelter and Animal Control Program with expanded adoption and fostering programs operated largely by volunteer Evanston residents.
- Focusing city and private efforts on a versatile Performing Arts Center in our downtown will help us maintain our standing as a top entertainment destination — keeping our restaurants and hotels thriving.
- By transitioning the Evanston Public Library to a self-directed fund model, compliant with state law, we created a self-directed board removed from other city politics.
On Council, I serve on the Rules, Planning and Development, Human Services, Economic Development, Parking and Transportation and City-School Liaison Committees as well as the Housing and Homelessness Commission.
Education and professional background: I am a 1978 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a B.S. Degree in Design. I practiced graphic design for 35 years at large and small firms including international public relations firms Hill+Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller. For the last 20 years I have run my own business with a long list of clients including Brach’s Candy, First Chicago, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Cohn & Wolfe and William M. Mercer.