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EVANSTON, IL: Elections Pop-up Newsletter (Feb. 19, 2021)

Local elections in Evanston, IL are on Feb. 23, 2021 (primary) and April 6, 2021 (general). This is a pop-up newsletter to provide practical information, to facilitate participation, and to highlight big picture issues. CONTENTS: Primary Endorsements, a Dis-endorsement, Evanston Fights for Black Lives (Voter Guide, Mayoral Forum), follow-up on City Code, Issue highlight (Illinois losing population)

Evanston voters 
Evanston candidates
Evanston media
Evanston political groups
Evanston activists in my networks
Residents of my neighborhood (Nichols Neighbors)
Some non-Evanston voters with Evanston connections & interests

ABOUT this newsletter
Once or twice a month I try to put out an informal newsletter about current Evanston issues customized for people and groups in my networks. I try to:
—provide practical information to facilitate participation in our public processes
—connect local actions & issues to larger jurisdictions—county, state, regional (Midwest), national, world

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A. Primary Feb. 23:  Endorsements and a Dis-endorsement
B. Evanston Fights for Black Lives: Mayoral Forum & Voter’s Guide
C. Follow-up on City Code re aldermanic duties & powers
D. ISSUE HIGHLIGHT: Illinois losing population — Re-districting in Evanston

A. PRIMARY Feb. 23
Endorsements and a Dis-endorsement

1. My personal endorsements
a. MAYOR: I am not endorsing any candidate for the primary.

b. CITY CLERK: Cynthia Beebe (write-in)In her interview with Democratic Party of Evanston, Beebe cited the recent Georgia run-off for U.S. Senator in emphasizing the importance of creating lifelong voters: “Those handful of Georgia voters just changed world history.”

I believe that Beebe’s worldly experience, professional skills, and understanding of when and how to change outdated rules will set a positive tone for all of City government. She strikes me as “the adult in the room” that we have been craving at all government levels in all positions.

c. 4th WARD: Diane Goldring
I’ll be voting for Diane for two reasons:
—Unlike Ted Cruz (Senator from Texas), she looks at a community emergency (e.g., COVID) as a time to pitch in, be available, be helpful in small ways as well as big ways. While she’s doing that, Diane seems to have a knack for creating working relationships and networks of relationships, across the ward and across the City

—Like Katie Porter (U.S. Rep from California), I think Diane understands that “People have far too much on their plates” and that “it’s a politician’s job to make themselves and their work accessible to those people—not the other way around.”  Whether Diane would frame it that way I don’t know, but when I read this paragraph about Katie Porter, I said, yes, that’s the kind of alderperson we need—and the kind of alderperson that I think Diane Goldring will be.

In a conversation with The Nation last summer, Porter spoke of how so many Americans have tuned out traditional politics. People have far too much on their plates, working two jobs, raising kids, caring for family members. She knows they simply aren’t paying that much attention to cable TV or Twitter—let alone the ins and outs of political intrigue. She believes it’s a politician’s job to make themselves and their work accessible to those people—not the other way around—and to improve the condition of people’s lives. She’ll tell you that some of Congress’s current traditions “suck.” If she sees an unnecessary and arcane acronym in a press release her staff has drafted, she’ll write out the full word. She insists that the term “making an impact” be used only if a meteor is hitting the earth—in all other cases, she says, politicians should just say what they really mean.

2. A Dis-endorsement
As a 4th ward resident, I don’t believe it’s my business to stick my nose into another ward’s politics. But when another ward’s alderperson is negatively impacting the rest of the City, I claim my right to say something.

On Feb. 9, in response to the remarks made by long-time 8th ward alderperson Ann Rainey to a challenger (Devon Reid) and to the community outrage, I Tweeted a short thread, with links to some of the reporting. 

Here are the first two Tweets in that thread:
8th ward voters would do all Evanston a favor if they could:
–Find a way for Ann Rainey to contribute her knowledge & experience in a different forum
–Pilot a process for experienced Council members to transition from a Council seat to a mentorship role for aspiring activists

I am not in favor of term limits. But we U.S. voters need to develop & promote new structural ways to
–engage young voters in a meaningful pipeline of political activity
–create a continuum of leadership, whereby long-term leaders vacate seats of power in favor of mentorship

Mayoral Forum & Voter’s Guide

While it’s too early to know if the EFBL organization will be a long-term political force, the ten 17-22 year olds (“majority Black women and nonbinary people who have been raised in Evanston their whole lives”) have already changed the political discussions in Evanston for the better. In less than a year (since May 2020), they’ve amassed an impressive organizational resume. Their contributions to the 2021 elections include:

A Progressive Voter Guide for the Local Evanston, IL 2021 Election including endorsements and “disendorsements” (thumbs down). The Guide is very detailed (45 pages), but well organized and very readable. With numerous links to EFBL resources.

A Mayoral forum (co-hosted with E-town Sunrise)
Feb. 13, 2021
Thanks to EFBL and E-town Sunrise for asking my question during the forum (about Illinois losing population). I thought the three candidates did a good job of answering. See my ISSUE HIGHLIGHT (Section D) below for details.

C. Follow-up on CITY CODE re aldermanic duties & powers

In my last newsletter, I brought up the issue that Evanston’s City Code has ZERO information about
—the purpose of the City Council
—duties & powers of individual alderpeople

Thanks to Mary Rosinski (candidate for 7th ward) for sending me the latest (August 2016) Rules & Organization of the City Council. Section 13 (p.13) does indeed include information that is missing from the City Code:

–13.1  The powers of the City Council shall be purely legislative.
–13.2  The City Council shall approve for payment all expenses and liabilities of the municipality.–13.3  An Alderman, at all times, may examine and inspect the books, records and papers of any agent, employee or officer of the city when such examination and inspection is reasonably necessary for the exercise of the Alderman’s legislative function, and such books, records and papers are kept in the ordinary course of the duties of the agent, employee or officer.

The fact that the Council felt that this information needed to be spelled out in the Rules document supports my suggestion that
—our City Code is lacking
—we should include some of this information (and possibly more) in the Code 

Illinois losing population — Re-districting in Evanston

I sent this question to forums sponsored by 
—League of Women Voters Evanston
—Evanston Fights for Black Lives

Thanks to EFBL for using my question.Listen to the candidates answers at 49:45 in the recording. Interesting that Sebastian Nalls connected it to the recently proposed school redistricting. It would be good to have a city-wide comprehensive conversation on this issue—both wards and school districts, perhaps soon after the new Council is seated (in May ?). 

This question is related to the 
—2020 Census 
—redistricting (Illinois & Evanston) 
—loss of population (in Evanston, Chicago, & Illinois)

According to a Wilmette media outlet, Wirepoints, 93 of Illinois’s 102 counties have lost population since 2010. We know that Evanston is losing population, and it’s possible that Illinois might lose two Congressional seats based on the 2020 Census. Wirepoints says “it’s not the weather” (neighboring states are not losing population). 

—How can City of Evanston work with Cook County and State of Illinois to reverse our hemorrhaging populations?  
—When will Evanston redraw its ward map, based on population changes in the census?  
—Should we make any changes in the process of redistricting our wards, compared to last re-map in 2003?