Jeff Smith, a leader of the Central Street Neighbors Association, says he’s joining the race to become Evanston’s next mayor.

He becomes the fifth candidate in next April’s election seeking to replace Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who’s not seeking a third term in office.

Speaking at a candidate forum at the Reba Place Church, 620 Madison St., Wednesday night he chided one of his opponents, 9th Ward Alderman Brian Miller, who created confusion for other candidates in the race by insisting that the proper filing period was in November.

“I believe in the correct filing period, Dec. 12 to 19,” Smith said, adding that he’s lived in Evanston longer than Miller’s been alive.

Smith, an attorney, finished fourth in a five-way Democratic primary race in 2010 to replace Judy Hamos the 18th District state representative representing Evanston.

He served as general counsel for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the waning days of the Quinn administration.

Smith said the nation is divided into “left,right, and the left out, and that last group is the biggest in this country.” And he said he wants to advocate on behalf of those who’ve been left out.

Related story

Four candidates file petitions for mayor’s race (11/29/16)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. There is no diversity in Evanston
    I’d love to know who is “left out” in Evanston, according to Smith. Certainly not liberals in Evanston.

    We now have 5 mayoral candidates and they are all Democrats. Miller was president of the Evanston Democratic party, Smith served under a Democrat governor, Tendam has hosted fundraising parties for Democratic politicians, Gaspard, a Democrat and former Evanston Township supervisor, requested a 29 percent budget increase in the now defunct township and Hagerty listed his affiliation as a Democrat.

    Seems to me conservatives and Republicans are left out in Evanston. There is no political diversity in Evanston and thus no true exchange of ideas to solve Evanston’s many problems.

    Evanston has so much potential for a major economic boom but its numerous regulations and high taxation scares away many potential business owners and smothers property owners in continuous rising taxes (Cook County is to blame for this as well).

    All these candidates to me just means more government, more taxes and more spending to solve the same ole problems that only worsen over time. Tell me, what private company with more than 100 employees has relocated to Evanston in the past decade? Why is that?

    For once, I’d love to see an Evanston candidate, any candidate, run on a major platform to reduce taxes, spending, government waste, unending regulations and bureaucratic bottleneck.

    Evanston lacks a majority middle class. A good portion of the population is poor, dependent on housing and food vouchers while another large chunk resides in households with six figure incomes (the 10 percenters).

    Sociologists say a sizable and healthy middle-class can be viewed as a characteristic of a healthy society. What does that say about Evanston?

    1. Regulations and taxes.

       To the previous comment: You say you want to get rid of regulations. Another word for regulations is"protections". These are the things that keep us safe from businesses from taking advantage of us. Would you like to reduce the regulations on your food, no longer regulate meat and have it inspected, or perhaps you don't want our water supply tested and regulated so that we end up like Flint Michigan? Perhaps you want to get rid of regulations that would allow just about anyone to practice medicine, or be a plumber, or a lawyer As for taxes, that is the price you pay to be a member of the society and have the advantages of the city infrastructure, the roads, the Internet, and the police and fire departments. The difficulty is with the people who aren't paying their fair share, such as the large corporations, billionaires like Donald Trump, as well as churches who sit on their land for free. If these are all Democrats that are running, what I want to know is how many of them are part of the "old guard" that supported a failed candidate like Hillary, and how many of them really support the working class and are in line with someone like Bernie Sanders who wants the government to work for all of us and not just for the upper 1%.

    2. People of Evanston

      Gee…isn't Wally trying to make this the most livable city in America????   Gimme a break!  

    3. Sizable companies here …

      The city manager says:

      "Two existing businesses located here last year with over 100 employees: Accuity and Valli Produce. L2TMedia was founded here in 2007 and has grown to about 100 employees. If you can back 12 years, you can add Magnetar Capital and Acquirent to the list of companies founded here and now we believe have over 100 employees here."

      — Bill

      1. Evanston Growth
        I’m a current employee of one of the mentioned companies. I moved to Evanston in late 2015 for the new job opportunity and my boyfriend joined me. I love Evanston and think there is a lot of opportunity here that the local government supports.

    4. You say: “For once, I’d love
      You say: “For once, I’d love to see an Evanston candidate, any candidate, run on a major platform to reduce taxes, spending, government waste, unending regulations and bureaucratic bottleneck.”

      Then run. What is stopping you?

  2. I’d like to know more about

    I’d like to know more about Smith’s positions. He’s clearly liberal, but appears, at least at first glance, to be a liberal of the sensible variety. He seems less ban-everything-that-I-don’t-like than many candidates.

    Smith’s 2013 piece ( on Evanston’s ban on big, scary black guns seems to reveal some moderate, sensible qualities in the candidate.  He also examined the issue as it relates to the state and federal Constitutions in 2008 ( and expressed a moderate view. He seems the type to keep those who obviously shouldn’t handle firearms from having the legal right to own them, without banning assault barrel shrouds.

    In 2008 Smith wrote a letter to the editor that I found encouraging. ( )
    “What we all need to remember, before demanding any rule or regulation, is that this country was dedicated to freedom.”
    Surely, a candidate puts themselves in their best light in these sorts of letters, but it seems that Smith acknowledges problems that need to be addressed.

    I appreciate his pragmatic stance on TIFs given in a 2012 guest essay of his (
    "But because of the large hit to taxpayers and schools, and inequities created, the City must prove, factually, that "but for" the TIF, an area will stagnate, and that alternatives are unavailable."

    Does anyone know where I can find more information about Smith’s positions? I like what I see so far, but I would also like to know more. I am also interested to know about the past involvement of his law practice in city matters, if there has been any involvement, as well as any potential conflicts of interests that might exist, and what, if anything, he plans to do about them.

    He was active in the Democratic Party, so I'm curious to know his reasons for running as an independant in this race.

    1. Non-partisan election

      Evanston's municipal elections are non-partisan. All of the candidates run without party labels.

      Given the deep blue hue of the community, most candidates for local office who have been politically active at any other level tend to have associations with the Democratic party.

      — Bill

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