Read why Evanstonians from every walk of life are supporting Mark. Please note: some comments have been edited for clarity.
James Mahoney, Chair of the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University
I am voting for Mark Tendam for Mayor of Evanston because Mark shares my core values and political beliefs. I see four contrasts between Mark Tendam and Steve Hagerty in their basic views and political orientations.
First, the priorities of the two candidates differ. One can see this by comparing their candidate statements in the Evanston RoundTable (March 9, 2017). Mark Tendam identifies his top three priorities as better-paying jobs and apprentice training, promoting development by taking advantage of Evanston’s rich culture, and increased social services for the most vulnerable. Steve Hagerty identifies his top three priorities as decreasing violence, keeping property taxes down, and keeping Evanston diverse with low prices. I believe that Mark’s priorities reflect a progressive agenda, whereas I feel that Steve’s priorities reflect more traditionally conservative values (i.e., stop crime, keep taxes down, and lower prices).
Second, for me, Steve Hagerty’s school choice for his children clashes with my core values. Steve sends his children to a private school outside of Evanston that is essentially available to only the truly rich. This choice does not make Steve Hagerty a bad person. But it does mean that his core beliefs and values are very different from my core beliefs and values. By contrast, while Mark Tendam and his husband do not have children, Mark is a tireless advocate for District 65 schools — in words as well as past and present actions. Mark shares my belief that our public and private schools are a reason for all of us Evanstonians to feel proud. Steve Hagerty does not believe that Evanston schools – public or private – are the best choice for his own children.
Third, I see Mark Tendam as taking the lead on the most pressing issues that face our city, whereas Steve Hagerty seems to be reluctantly following with non-specific ideas. A salient recent example is the different reactions of Mark and Steve to new data on racial disparities in traffic stops in Evanston. Mark’s statement focused on a series of probing questions for the Evanston Police to address. Steve’s statement said he agreed with Mark’s ideas and hoped to be able to orient himself to address the issue in the future. When I read Mark’s statement, I felt I was reading the message of someone who is prepared to lead with good ideas when I read Steve’s statement, I felt I was reading the message of someone who speaks in generalities, falls back on broad statements about leadership talents, and is evasive about taking a clear stance.
Finally, I am concerned about the way in which Steve Hagerty has introduced money into this election. The concern is in part the fact that Steve can spend a lot more than Mark by simply loaning money to his campaign (as of late February, Steve had loaned his own campaign about $90,000). The concern is also that Steve is well networked in wealthy circles, and his affluent friends have donated a great deal of money to his campaign. I am also concerned that Steve will have financial conflicts of interests if he is elected. Most important, I am concerned about the specific way in which Steve Hagerty has spent most of this money: he has used it to hire a political firm that, among other things, has paid for canvassing all around Evanston. I am worried that Steve Hagerty is able to use his money to buy name recognition and support. Again, the contrast between the two candidates is large (for me): Mark has used the money he does have — a fraction of what Steve has — mostly to sponsor political rallies at places like Curt’s Cafe and Hecky’s Barbecue.
For all of these reasons, I think Mark Tendam is the right choice for Mayor and Steve Hagerty is not the right choice.
Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Congressional Representative (D-IL, 9th District)
I am proud to endorse Mark Tendam in the race for Mayor of Evanston. One of Evanston’s greatest strengths is our diversity. As our mayor, Mark Tendam will maintain a resolute commitment to equality and inclusivity for all Evanstonians. He will ensure that Evanston remains a sanctuary city, providing a safe haven for families in jeopardy of deportation during this uncertain time.
As a member of and champion for both the LGBTQ and Jewish communities, I trust Mark Tendam to be an empathetic advocate for marginalized communities and fight for every Evanstonian, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.
Evanston Firefighters Local 742
Evanston Firefighters Local 742 supported Mark Tendam when he ran for office in 2009 and throughout his tenure on the city council. He is an ardent supporter of public safety issues that ultimately affect the citizens. Alderman Tendam’s experience working diligently for his constituents over the past 8 years will help lead the City of Evanston to the next level. The Evanston Firefighters Local 742 is proud to support Mark Tendam for Mayor of Evanston.
For over 20 years, Tendam has been a leader on initiatives to advance fairness and justice in Evanston. He chaired the board of the city’s HIV/AIDS service organization, Better Existence with HIV. Tendam also served on the board of the McGaw YMCA, where he focused on issues facing LGBTQ youth. As a member of the Evanston City Council, he advocated for spousal benefits for same-sex couples, the appointment of a municipal LGBTQ liaison, and an expansion of gender neutral restrooms.
The Equality Illinois PAC proudly endorses Alderman Mark Tendam for Mayor of Evanston.
Stopher Bartol, Evanston Business Owner
So, on Tuesday we choose Evanston’s next mayor from two candidates, each appealing in their own way. I have noticed that many around town are keeping their proverbial cards close to their chest regarding who they will support. I get it, as both Mark and Steve are decent, highly competent guys with policy views seemingly more similar than different. And with the contentiousness of most political discourse these days, who really wants to step into the fray and take a public stand? That said, I feel if there’s any place that’s safe to do so, it should be the Evanston mayoral election. After all, regardless of the outcome, our community will do whatever we can to help our next mayor succeed, whether it be Mark or Steve.
That said, I want to share why I’ll be voting for Mark Tendam.
#1 Experience Does Matter – Sure, it’s a campaign slogan. But in this case, I believe it’s also true, especially when it comes to navigating an apparatus like local government. How many times have we seen newcomers to a political environment find the learning curve much steeper than they anticipated?
I’ve heard the arguments for why city government experience isn’t important for the mayoral position, and I’m well aware of today’s political climate that favors candidates “outside” the establishment. And I respect the experience gained building a company and serving as it’s CEO. But all else equal, I value experience. Based on my experience in business and serving on non-corporate boards, I’d bet on the guy with eight solid years of successful service in Evanston city government to be the one who will get things done in that unique environment.
#2 Full time is better – It just is. I’ve heard the arguments that the job of mayor need not be full time. But if we are hiring a mayor, and if we think both candidates are solid on policy, my view is that the more fully immersed you are in it the more successful you will probably be. For eight years Mark Tendam has been a full time Alderman, and he promises to do the same as mayor. As our Alderman, I’d often ask him his view on some policy issue facing Evanston.
Whether it involved public safety, TIFS, residential zoning, business development, or any other issue, Mark has always known it inside-and-out. And as a business leader, parent of three kids, and a resident, I’ve been impressed with how he understands and appreciates the positions of the many various stakeholders who might be impacted by a Council’s decision. He’s been able to operate at this impressive level, I believe in part because he’s chosen make serving Evanston a full time job, just as he’ll do as mayor.
In short, I feel that between two guys with largely similar and positive policy goals, I am betting that the one with experience navigating local government, working full-time on our behalf as mayor, is more likely to achieve success for Evanston. For those of you wanting my view, you now have it. For those who had my post imposed on you via social media, I apologize. But either way, now I’ve shared the “why” behind my support for Mark on Tuesday.
Alpana Singh, Evanston Business Owner
It is important to have leaders who are approachable and supportive of the needs of residents as well as small business owners such as myself. Mark is very forward thinking when it comes to new ideas in keeping Evanston on the forefront of tourism and hospitality. His pragmatic leadership style is rooted in experience and I very much appreciate his willingness to listen to his constituents with an empathic and compassionate ear. Mark Tendam is the right choice for Evanston and I am proud to support him.
Jeff Smith, Former Mayoral Candidate
One of two candidates on the April 4 ballot will be the next mayor of Evanston. I plan to vote for Mark Tendam and urge my supporters, as well as those who did not vote at all in the unprecedented February primary, to do so. Voters need to come out on April 4 and make a decision that reflects important differences that do exist.
Experience: Mark Tendam has nearly eight years experience as an elected official, plus additional City committee service beforehand. He is the only candidate I can recall seeing five or ten years ago at City Council or ward meetings. The City of Evanston is an agency with a $300 million budget and many moving parts, and our community is complicated. Both take years to learn, and the mayor and Council remove accountability from decisionmaking if they are unfamiliar with the workings. Mark Tendam’s understanding of the dynamics that crafted some of our important City plans and decisions, that residents expect to be honored, is important.
Leadership: Mark Tendam also has a real record of City leadership, taking positions on controversies that concerned the community, such as the libraries, and forging a majority of Council votes to pass legislation. The mayor of Evanston is not a chief executive in the sense of the mayor of Chicago, but a chief legislator who must work with a diverse group and balance many constituencies’ different points of view. Any mayor will face temptations of expediency and pressures of politics; Mark Tendam will not face those as a rookie would.
The environment was hardly the only issue I ran on but it is a keystone topic that every elected official and candidate must stress when the President is threatening to gut the EPA and our environmental laws. Mark Tendam stood up for aggregating renewable energy in Evanston when it mattered and has been a key vote on other green issues. His opponent, despite running for the better part of a year, still does not mention environmental issues on his website.
Democracy: Finally, Mark Tendam’s campaign has more grassroots authenticity. All his petitions were gathered by Evanston residents, including some veteran organizers, and over 100 by Ald. Tendam himself, including actual door-to-door work. He is not relying on record-breaking spending to purchase community recognition. The role of money in politics is the unacknowledged elephant in the room in this race, and any veteran of the Ab Mikva days has to help show that elephant the door.
I look forward to seeing Mark Tendam’s leadership and experience in the mayor’s office.
Gary Gaspard, Former Mayoral Candidate, Former Township Supervisor
In this municipal election, after weeks of careful consideration, I have decided that I will cast my vote for Mark Tendam for Evanston Mayor.
Richard Rykhus, Former District 65 School Board Member
I’m writing in support of Mark Tendam’s candidacy for Mayor. Last week, James Mahoney posted an excellent letter in support of Mark and I encourage others to read his well-stated points (available online).
I’d like to drill down in one area he noted – education – which I believe is the foundation of any community.
In talking with both Mayoral candidates about our schools, Mark’s broad and detailed perspective on education and the elements that support student achievement impressed me. He understands that the Mayor has a substantial role to play in driving greater educational outcomes by helping to deal with factors that can impede or support success. He is prepared to use the Mayoral platform to advocate for and support programming that will address bullying, drug abuse, homelessness, food insecurity and more as a means to support Evanston’s public schools.
Mark knows our community and our schools and has been a consistent supporter of District 65 work, including his time serving on the City-School liaison committee to collaborate with D202 and D65. His continued work with the school districts as Mayor will be a natural extension of this prior experience.
It is a personal choice where parents elect to educate their children. However, when one of those parents then chooses to run for public office, as in the case of Steve Hagerty, that choice is open to discussion. In my view, we need a Mayor who is personally and fully invested in our community’s schools. Public schools are already battling many challenges and perceptions and we need a Mayor who wants to be part of that system. In the case of Mr. Hagerty, he and his wife choose to educate their children in a private school outside of Evanston, a choice that as Mayor I believe would send the wrong message about Evanston to our residents and those considering moving here. Some people have tried to argue that Mark and his husband “chose” not to parent and that this is somehow the same thing as the choice not to educate one’s children in public schools. The first part of this argument is factually false but beyond that, the two things are not equivalent at all.
Finally, when Mark’s team has been canvassing across the city they have consistently been asking people to vote for Mark AND for the referendum. Mark knows and says publicly that the upcoming referendum vote is the most important vote Evanstonians will cast on election day. I agree and appreciate his willingness to have supported the referendum early, publicly and deeply.
I hope you consider education as an important element in electing our next Mayor and ask that you give Mark your vote.
Debra Shore, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner
Mark is passionate about Evanston and its future, level-headed, responsible. Evanston will be well-served by Mark as Mayor.
Mimi Roeder, 1st Ward Resident
Experience really does matter, now more than ever. I am voting for Mark Tendam because they both have strong independent voices in our community, understand the complex needs of Evanston and its citizenry; most importantly they fully understand the roles they aspire to hold after April 4th. Mark has a proven track record of being our full time city official! I urge you to return him to office.
Lindsay Janasiak, 3rd Ward Resident
I am thrilled and honored to support Mark Tendam for Evanston mayor. His experience with and dedication to confronting the issues that face all members of the Evanston community are vital as we navigate this new political climate.
I appreciate Mark’s recognition that although Evanston is a wonderful town in so many ways, there are many things we could be doing better. His approach to equity, affordability, and police accountability are measured and practical. His steady and outspoken support for our public schools and all of the children in our community reminds me that we chose the right place to raise our children.
I strongly believe that Mark is the right person for this job. I know he will do right by this community.
Jeanne Cook, 3rd Ward Resident
Mark Tendam is the inclusive, kind, intelligent choice for Mayor of Evanston. Mark is the candidate who has the essential public service and consensus building experience to effectively lead the City Council.
As Mark explained at a LWVA forum, his graphic arts experience allows him to view an issue from multiple sides and with multiple senses, which provide him the best information to formulate solutions.
His experience, personal information and values are transparent and accessible to voters. He has efficiently used appropriate resources for his campaign. He has refrained from wasting valuable resources, both his own and others, to promote himself because he respects and values the environment and conservation of resources.
His priorities of affordable housing and intelligent economic growth for the city will ensure Evanston continues to be a livable, accessible and healthy environment for current residents, employers/employees, future residents, and visitors alike.
Please join me and: VOTE TENDAM FOR MAYOR!
Ryan Monte, 5th Ward Resident and ETHS Student
I respect Mark Tendam more as the face of Evanston because, while he is financially successful, his personal experience as part of the LGBTQ community more closely represents what many Evanstonians face. I think Tendam got experience working for our community as an alderman, re-elected, even… Mark Tendam is a public servant and Hagerty is a politician.
Parul Gupta, MD, 6th Ward Resident
As an immigrant and an Asian American I walk through the world differently these days. I look over my shoulder more often, second guess stares and question the sincerity of members in my community.
It is important for me to identify allies, not simply in their words and posts but with their actions. Evanston is recognized nationally for its diversity, its commitment to equity and its strong and vibrant public school community. That is why we chose to raise our family here and enroll both kids in the TWI program at Willard back in 2006 when it first began.
Mr. Tendam has been my alderman and I am honored to support him for mayor. He has consistently shown support for the immigrant community, for the public school system and for affordable housing. His experience serving on the city council has prepared him for the challenges of being a mayor and he is the most qualified to serve all of Evanston.
Nisan and Sarah Chavkin, 4th Ward Residents
When we chose to make our home in Evanston 25 years ago, one of the most important reasons was our belief that here everyone was welcome. It is also a reason we support Mark Tendam for Mayor.
Mark shares our belief that equity and inclusion matter. For eight years as alderman, he has supported and implemented many key steps to promote these values for all who live and work in Evanston. He pushed for the creation of a full-time City staff member who is dedicated exclusively to addressing issues of fairness and equality. Mark has supported innovations in city police practices. He led the overhaul of the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance. He supports the education referendum, an increased minimum wage, and increasing summer job programs for young people. Mark’s vision for an equal and inclusive city informs everything he does.
Mark has an encyclopedic knowledge of city issues and practices. He stands up for his beliefs and cares more about results than recognition. Mark will be a full-time mayor who will be here to celebrate the achievements of Evanston residents and listen to their concerns.
We believe that Mark Tendam is the right man to be mayor of Evanston at this moment in our nation’s history. He has the experience and the values to defend what makes Evanston worthwhile. We are proud to support him.
Rob and Cheryl Muno, 9th Ward Residents
Having taken the opportunity since the February 28th primary to evaluate the aims and objectives of the two Mayoral contenders, we would like to offer our support for Mark Tendam.
Our analysis has shown us that not only does Mark Tendam have excellent experience in the workings of our city from the eight years he’s spent as Sixth Ward Alderman on our Evanston City Council, but he also has a history of serving through numerous civic activities: Former President, Better Existence with HIV (BEHIV); former Board member, McGaw YMCA Board; former Board member, Democratic Party of Evanston; graduate, Leadership Evanston program; graduate, Evanston Citizen Police Academy; Steering Committee, Leadership Evanston.
As regular viewers of our Evanston Committee and City Council Meetings, we have had ample occasion to study Mark Tendam’s practical and honest approach as he tackled many of the very difficult issues faced by our growing city in his capacity of Alderman.
Alderman Tendam consistently shows a willingness to listen to Evanstonians’ concerns and take them into consideration when forced to make difficult decisions and Alderman Tendam has made an admirable effort to effectively handle the growth that has occurred in Evanston, all the while endeavoring to maintain the quality of life that many of us moved here to enjoy.
Further, it is refreshing to know he recognizes that we’ve reached a point where we can be more discerning in our courting of businesses to more amply round out our business districts and benefit residents.
Life in Evanston is not perfect for all residents, a fact not lost on Mark Tendam. His recent statement concerning the UNC Traffic Stop Study shows an interest in more fully understanding the issues highlighted in that survey and applying resources and processes to address them.
Mark Tendam also recognizes that disbursement of revenues throughout all city wards is not done in a balanced manner and he has expressed a desire to allocate those revenues in a fair manner so that all residents benefit from well-maintained parks and streets as well as fair delivery of other city services.
His work on the Housing, Homelessness & Human Relations Commission has led to an ability to be more creative in applying solutions through amendments which will generate millions in revenue by year’s end.
In summary, Mark Tendam has already shown us that he is a very capable public servant. His long history shows a dedication to Evanston that can be seen through his work on various city committees, in his capacity as Alderman on City Council, and through demonstrable public service.
Our conversations with him have left us with the strong opinion he is a person of integrity who can be trusted to share the unvarnished truth and lead us forward in an honest and straightforward manner.
Claire Howard, 9th Ward Resident
Evanston is a complex and diverse city with many assets and some serious problems. When choosing a Mayor to lead the City, we have a responsibility to elect the best candidate who knows city government and administration. The challenge is to lead our city effectively on behalf of the entire community in a manner that is fair, just, and compassionate. This is not an easy decision as each of us has something to offer.
Some would say that a successful businessman can translate the skills necessary in that occupation to the administration of government. We have as examples of this thinking our Governor and President. Each of them assured the voters of their ability to just step in and get the job done. We can see how that’s working out. It’s my contention that Evanston must pick a Mayor who knows the job; who knows the players and the problems and can lead us into the future without some sort of training by trial and error.
In next week’s election, we have the opportunity to elect a Mayor who will be more than a ceremonial figure. We have a man who knows the City Council and who has been in the crucible of decision making at the highest levels for many years. Being the Mayor of Evanston requires a depth of experience and understanding of the workings of the City government. Being Mayor of Evanston in the coming years will require guts, determination, and know how. We don’t have time for learning on the job. The job needs to be done now by someone who knows what it takes to make City Hall work on day one.
We must elect Mark Tendam Mayor of Evanston. In the final analysis he is not only the best candidate but our only real choice.
Debbie Hillman, 4th Ward Resident
A vote for Mark Tendam is not only a vote for Mark and for Evanston, but it is a vote for adult civic engagement of a variety that we do not often see in the U.S.: “I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some real ideas about where to start, and I’m committed to talking with, thinking with, and listening to everyone.”
I have been feeling more and more grateful that we in Evanston are having local elections so soon after the 2016 U.S. presidential and Congressional election. As our 2017 elections have played out, we have had many opportunities to engage our heightened civic senses and to focus and re-focus our individual and group goals. In most races, we have had an abundance of candidates. And, except for the Ridgeville Park District election, all races have been well covered by civic groups and the media. I thank everyone for making Evanston’s 2017 elections a valuable learning experience, on multiple fronts.
As we come down the home stretch on the mayoral race and as we’re watching the federal government rattle its sabres against welcoming cities, I feel especially grateful that Evanston has a mayoral candidate who has no potential conflicts of interest vis-a-vis the federal, state or city governments and who has all the right qualities for the job and for the moment. Luckily this same candidate has 8 years experience as an Evanston alderman and, if elected, will hit the ground running. I am writing to endorse Mark Tendam for Mayor of Evanston.
Over the last few months, I have enjoyed getting to know more about Mark and am now satisfied that we can vote for someone who understands what’s at stake in terms of individual civil rights and community security and solidarity. Mark has the maturity, equilibrium, life experience, civic experience, and personality traits that will serve Evanston well in the next four years. In a highly urbanized suburb like Evanston (filled with competing interests, by definition), I believe that Mark will apply those qualities and experiences with positive effect, both in mundane day-to-day activities and in any crisis situations that might develop (expectedly or unexpectedly).
Most important to me is Mark’s nuanced and personal understanding of the systemic injustices under which many Evanstonians live (not to mention Evanstonians’ friends and family in Cook County, in Illinois, and across the U.S. and the world). For many of us, those injustices have been increasing, not decreasing. This is directly because of federal, state, and county policies that have been increasing the tilt of our adult “playing fields” for the socio-economic-political benefit of fewer and fewer people (not to mention other life forms).
Mark’s economic development ideas seem to be based on leveling the playing fields, not Haliburton-type public-private get-rich-quick schemes. Evanston, like many other American municipalities and American individuals, has been looking for the winning lottery ticket for too long. It’s time to talk economic justice, not economic development based on casino capitalism. Rather than be the short-term beneficiaries of this particularly specious and pernicious kind of economic development, I would hope that Evanstonians would prefer socio-economic-political justice.
MARK’S PLATFORM. Socio-economic-political justice and nitty-gritty inclusionary civic engagement is what I hear in Mark Tendam’s campaign. He talks about careers for young people, not just summer jobs. He talks about changing the IRS laws regarding charities vs. non-profits with big endowments. He talks about making citizen appointees accountable to their commitment to attend meetings and making boards & commissions fun, in a satisfying adult way.
One of the best ideas that I’ve heard Mark talk about is promoting Evanston as a long-term, go-to spot for small conferences and conventions centered on arts and intellectual capital. Along those lines and inspired by Mark’s idea, I am already promoting the idea of an Evanston-based conference on Complete Streets. This could bring in people from Greater Chicago or even the larger Midwest. (A natural Midwest partner is the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.)
In terms of affordable housing that also preserves neighborhood charm, Mark talks about changing Evanston’s housing codes so that more coach houses can be built — for the benefit of single family home owners (rental income) and of people not wanting large and/or long-term living spaces. He talks about changing ordinances that currently micro-manage the number of non-related people living together.
He talks about using the mayor’s office not just for private one-on-one conversations but for productive and inclusive group conversations. He talks about standing up to the federal government, if necessary, to defend Evanston residents and assets against illegal or unConstitutional actions.
That’s the kind of mayor that I support and that I want to help over the next four years. Vote Mark Tendam for Mayor on April 4.