Jonathan Nieuwsma, 51, a renewable energy consultant, is making his first run for elective office, seeking to represent Evanston’s 4th Ward on the City Council.
Nieuwsma and other 4th Ward candidates were interviewed about their views on key issues by Evanston Now’s Jeff Hirsh.
Nieuwsma also offered the following information on his background and what he views as the key issues in the campaign in response to an Evanston Now questionnaire.
As a founding board member and later president of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, I have worked for over a decade to make Evanston more environmentally, economically, and socially resilient. I led CGE’s successful campaign to bring low-cost renewable energy to all Evanston residents, for which I received the Evanston Community Foundation’s Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2013. Under my leadership, CGE expanded its work in local food, natural habitat, sustainable transportation, and environmental justice, including a campaign to promote energy efficiency in low-income communities. I continue to serve on the task force monitoring progress towards Evanston’s goals of zero carbon and zero waste by 2050.
I was appointed to the Utilities Commission by Mayor Tisdahl and served for eight years, the last two as chairman. Working closely with both the City’s Public Works Agency and the Office of Sustainability, I helped develop the Community Choice Electricity ordinance as well as the energy and water efficiency ordinance.
I was a founding member of the Evanston Development Cooperative, a community-owned business that designs and builds affordable, sustainable housing by and for Evanston residents.
I have served on the board of DPOE and I am a Leadership Evanston graduate.
I have an engineering degree from the University of Illinois and work in the renewable energy industry.
My wife, Chris, works in human resources and is an advocate for women’s rights and social justice. Our twin 10-year-olds are in the two-way language immersion program at Washington School.
My top priorities are Equity, Environmental Sustainability, Economic Development, and Engagement—four E’s for Evanston’s Fourth Ward.
Equity: As alderman, I will work to dismantle structural racism by fully implementing our groundbreaking reparations program, making sure our public safety budget reflects the values of our community, and addressing affordable housing.
Environment: I will continue working to make Evanston more environmentally sustainable and to reduce our community’s carbon footprint. To that end, I will seek to make implementation of our visionary Climate Action and Resilience Plan a priority of the City Council. I will support an environmental justice ordinance so that communities of color are no longer disproportionately impacted by unequal distribution of environmental assets, environmental hazards, and health risks.
Economic development: A well thought-out economic development approach is critical to reversing post-COVID revenue shortfalls–Evanston cannot be everything we want it to be if we cannot afford it. I will prioritize the people of Evanston over corporate interests and support policies that encourage and promote small businesses which create wealth locally and retain it within our community. I support an updated master development plan.
Engagement: Perhaps most importantly, I will be an accessible and engaged alderman committed to listening, learning, and seeking out all the voices in the community that need to be heard. I will be transparent in my decision making. I will hold regular ward meetings and office hours (online until we can do it in person) and will meet individually with constituents whenever required.
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