Anyone looking for fireworks and finger pointing at Tuesday night’s 2nd Ward candidates forum would have been sorely disappointed.

But anyone looking for a respectful exchange of opinions was in the right place, as seven of the nine Evanstonians hoping to replace Ald. Peter Braithwaite took part in an online forum sponsored by the Evanston North Shore NAACP and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity.

And while respectful and even polite may be a bit boring, it may also be exactly what Evanston needs to help get programs accomplished.

In fact, two of the questions submitted by zoom participants dealt with reducing the sometimes contentious nature of city council meetings, and how to build bridges with the other alders.

Anya Tanyavutti, currently a member of the District 65 Board of Education, cited her “inclusive leadership” on that board as both vice-president and president. Tanyavutti said she and her colleagues “built something better together than anything we could have done independently,” and she would bring that approach to council.

Darlene Cannon, a community activist, said she would “lead with compassion,” and think of not only what’s best for the 2nd Ward, but also “for this city.” Cannon is also on the board of the Citizens Network of Protection. She ran against Braithwaite in the 2021 city council race, falling short with 47% of the vote.

Keith Banks, executive director of the Reba Place Development Corporation, said the way to tone things down at city hall is to “start with respect,” and “deal with people in a calm, peaceful manner.” In 2013, Banks was endorsed by Braithwaite for Evanston Township Supervisor, but lost with 43% of the vote.

Matthew Furrauto, a political consultant, said his philosophy is “don’t sacrifice your values or the interests of the ward, but find ways to agree” with others on council to get things done.

Patricia Gregory, a physical education teacher, said she’s always been a “good listener,” and even if something might seem tense at the beginning, it’s still worth trying to find common ground.

If you, the reader, are seeing a trend by now, you’re right.

There were very few disagreements on key issues — such as encourging affordable housing, and also improving public safety by reaching out to youth before they get in trouble. But with seven candidates getting chances to speak, answers had to be brief. Responses were mostly general, without a lot of “cut the budget here, put the money there.”

Candidates were also asked what was the most important thing each of them had accomplished in Evanston.

Blanca Lule is a project manager at Uber for Business, and is also on the Citizens Police Review Board. Lule said that she was especially proud of helping some Spanish-speaking residents navigate the paperwork and bureaucracy in applying for the upcoming guaranteed income stipend.

Krissie Harris is manager of student life at Oakton Community College and a former board member at the local YWCA.

Harris mentioned her involvement with the African American Youth Achievement Awards, which honor Black students in a variety of areas.

Harris said being on City Council would be a way to give back to a community that has given much to her, and said collaboration is a key to accomplishment.

“Our wards are separated by air,” she noted. “We are one Evanston at the end of the day.

Two candidates,Mindy Scott and Jesus Vega, did not take part in the forum.

Another forum, hosted by the city, is on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center. You can either attend in person or watch on Zoom or the city’s YouTube channel.

It’s then up to Mayor Daniel Biss to name the new 2nd Ward alderperson.

That person will not have too long to get used to the job before having to run for re-election.

Because of the timing of when Braithwaite retired, his replacement will have to run again in 2023.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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7 Comments

  1. I am legitimately flabbergasted about what record Ms. Tanyavutti thinks she is running on. As a parent with kids in the system, her tenure was marked by chaos, grandstanding from a bully pulpit, lack of transparency in administrative hiring, the decay of polite discourse among parents and community members around public education and the divestment of hundreds of those families from district schools.

    Her appointment would be a disaster, and I hope Mayor Biss has the wisdom to avoid making a huge mistake.

    1. This is 100% correct. The absence of self-reflection is astounding if not at all surprising.

      At one level she must see the writing on the wall and realize that the D65 election next year is going to be a battle. Perhaps she thinks an aldermanic appointment will allow her to quit D65 in a face saving manner.

      We’ve already seen the other incumbent, Witherspoon, jump ship.

      The thing that struck me from Tanyavutti’s performance is either her lack of knowledge about city government issues or she thinks she is simply entitled to be appointed because of her ‘experience.’ But regardless she doesn’t seem that engaged with the actual issues related to city government. I didn’t hear any talk about economic development, transportation, climate plan, etc…

      Biss seems like a guy who doesn’t like the drama that someone like Tanyavutti or Canon would bring and would avoid appointing either of them.

      Remember when the 9th ward position was open and that guy who came in last in the mayoral race openly lobbied for the gig? Biss thankfully ignored him. Hopefully he’ll do the same this time.

      I could see him appoint Banks. He has a strong enough resume and ticks the identity politics box that Biss feels compelled to endorse.

    2. You left out mention of Anya’s constant use of the race card in attacking all her many critics as racists. To me this is her biggest disqualification. No more ideologue activists please – we need another agreeable, accomplished, pragmatic liberal with common sense like Peter Braithwaite. Banks has a good bio.

  2. As much as seeing Anya Tanyavutti leave the D65 Board after being appointed as alderman would warm my heart, there is nothing about her display of “leadership” on the D65 Board that would want her in any position of responsibility for the City.

  3. Darlene Cannon is more than qualified. I’m actually surprised that AT would not just endorse Darlene who has been working tirelessly for years on the ground to actually make a difference for children and families in and out of schools. She’s the real deal

    1. What, exactly, is Cannon’s background? When she ran last year she didn’t even put basic bio information like her education or where she works on her website, which i found weird.

      From public records it appears she started a nonprofit a couple of months before the election but it doesn’t have a website and if I recall from their 990 form it has a pretty small budget—not enough to hire any staff.

      The only thing I know about her is that she protested against an affordable housing development targeting working women (which was entirely privately funded and in compliance with local zoning).

      After that protest went nowhere she teamed up with other NIMBYs across the city as part of The Same Thirty People who show up to criticize everything and never propose legitimate solutions.

      I would really be curious about her educational background and work experience.

      We really need someone with experience similar to Braithwaite: a career working in the private sector, and legitimate nonprofits, with solid academic background.

  4. Braithwaite demonstrated solid judgement during his time on the council. 2nd Ward should take note of who he endorses

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