Mark Tendam on Why He Deserves Your Vote

(Transcribed from Alderman Tendam’s Facebook page).

The most recent edition of the Round Table contains an Editorial entitled “Who Deserves Your Vote.” In it, the editors remind Evanston voters that an election should not be a “popularity contest” and that Evanston needs a Mayor with the experience to “help the Evanston schools and the Evanston community evolve and become better, bringing all residents along.” I get criticized sometimes for not tooting my own horn enough. To paraphrase Harry Truman, I believe we can accomplish more in life if we don’t worry about who gets the credit.

But while it is a little out of character for me, I am going to take some time over the next several days to lay out why I believe that I am the candidate who best fills these requirements.

The Roundtable has asked Evanstonians to cast their votes for someone who will always place City over Self. Specifically, the candidate who has “the best interests of the” city “at heart.”

My actions over the past two decades have proven that I love Evanston, I love public service, and I want nothing other than to be a full-time Mayor for this City.

I have no job or business to worry about or promote, nor do I have any desire for higher public office than the position of Mayor. Shortly after being elected to the Council 8 years ago, I posted a photo and stated simply, “I love this job.” I still do. I am proud of the work we have done in 8 years. We have reduced unemployment and filled up once empty commercial spaces. We have strengthened our relationships with the School Boards and have improved our relationship with Northwestern. We have committed ourselves to programs that will promote greater inclusiveness at every age and in every corner of our community. We have begun taking a hard look at the tensions that have developed between our Police and our citizens and I and others on the Council have pledged to close this trust gap. We have taken steps to increase the number of affordable housing units in our City, have returned control of our libraries to a knowledgeable board made up, primarily, of educators and career librarians and we have conducted a rigorous audit of our parks and recreational facilities to determine how and where to begin improving those facilities. This has been important work, but I am running for mayor because there is more for us to do.

The Round Table has asked voters to elect someone who has “a set of priorities” rather than a personal agenda.

My actions over the past two decades have proven that I am all about us and we – not “I” or “me.” If I am fortunate enough to become your Mayor, I will get up every morning and go to bed every night with the single goal of furthering the priorities that I have been stressing in this campaign:

  • Bringing more—and better—jobs to Evanston
  • Improving and increasing sustainable affordable housing
  • Building a relationship of trust between our citizens and our police
  • Supporting and encouraging SMART economic development
  • Ensuring that we leave Evanston a greener, more environmentally place for our descendants
  • Transitioning our Parks to a self-directed fund model that will remove them from other city politics
  • Creating a more accessible Evanston for our youth, our seniors, and differently abled residents
  • Promoting awareness about and providing treatment for people struggling with mental illness and substance abuse
  • Doing everything I can to ensure that every resident of Evanston, regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, religion, or legal status feels welcome here.

You can read more about my plans for the City on all of these issues here.

The Roundtable has asked Evanstonians to cast their votes for someone who has both the vision and the proven leadership skills to move our City forward. Specifically, the candidate who: “would make significant proposals and meaningful amendments, and would engage in thoughtful discussion” rather than a “naysayer, who votes against most measures but has no positive alternatives or solutions to propose.” Someone who is able to simultaneously “stand up” for what is important and “forge a consensus” among the members of the Council and the public. Someone who is not “going to be angry at voters who do not vote for [or with] them or their friends.”

I believe that I am the candidate who most embodies these values. I have spent the past 20 years forging coalitions and building consensus here in Evanston. Most recently, in my role as Chair of the Human Services Committee, I have been working with the Evanston Police chief and concerned members of the public to de-escalate the use of force and build greater trust and transparency between the EPD and the Public. As part of this effort, I have asked the Police Chief to investigate the facts reported by Professor Baumgartner in a recent nationwide study of post-stop searches of persons of color conducted by UNC Chapel Hill.

I am a graduate of the Citizens Police Academy and have enormous respect for the EPD and its leaders. But as I said at the Human Services Committee meeting last month, I would not be doing my job as an elected official or a citizen of this City if I did not stand up and ask for an explanation of the figures reported in the Baumgartner study and then work with the Police and the community to address any systemic bias in our policing. Our next Mayor must be prepared to deal with these important issues on day one. I am the only candidate with the experience and background to do so.

This is just one example of how I approach potentially divisive issues. My leadership style is all about “we, not me” and “facts first.” I do my homework and stand up for what I think is right but I try never to pre-judge an issue. I am a good listener and try never to shut down a debate before all reasonable voices have been heard. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness and insist that others do the same. We can and should debate policies. We can and should let our voices be heard but we have to do so in a way that encourages everyone to both speak and listen to others.

This is the kind of leader that I have been for the past two decades and it is the kind of leader that I will continue being if I am fortunate enough to become your Mayor.

The Roundtable has asked Evanstonians to cast their votes for someone who has the experience with the City to be an effective leader from day one. Specifically the candidate who: has “attended meetings of the governing body and shown an interest in its operation,” “know[s] and understand[s] the community—both its strengths and weaknesses”; and has “experience in moving measures toward approval and implementation.”

I believe that I am the candidate who most embodies these values. During my time as alderman, and in addition to my duties as a voting member of the Council, I’ve chaired the Human Services Committee, the Planning and Development Committee, the Rules Committee, the City-School Liaison Committee, the Economic Development Committee, the Joint Review Board, the Housing and Homelessness Commission, the Transportation/Parking Committee, and the Women, Minority and Evanston Business Enterprise Development Committee (M/W/EBE). Prior to being elected I served on the City’s Sign Review and Appeals Board, the Board of the YMCA and chaired the board of the only AIDS service provider on the North Shore (BEHIV). I believe in the work that all of the City’s committees do and if I am elected, I will seek to continue on as an active member of the Housing & Homelessness Commission and the City School Liaison Committee.

Twelve years ago I ran for Alderman and lost. I felt bad for a day or two and then I rolled up my sleeves and went back to work for the community. I joined the YMCA Board and got involved with the Residence Committee. I volunteered to help raise money for the YMCA, the Youth Job Center, Y.O.U, Beth Emet Synagogue, and Northlight Theatre among others and I volunteered at Booster events and helped several candidates with their bids for the D65 and D202 School Boards. That commitment and civic involvement gave me the experience that I needed when, four years later, I was elected to the City Council.

I started this campaign without a lot of money, but with a simple message: “Experience Matters.” Over the past two decades I have worked hard for the people of Evanston. I have a record of achievements and leadership that voters can and should study. And when they do, I hope they will agree that I possess all of the qualities needed to be a great Mayor for all of Evanston.

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