Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, is leaving Evanston and her fundraising job at Northwestern University to become Princeton University’s director of corporate and foundation relations.

Princeton has announced that Burrus will start her new job there on April 27.

The departure of Burrus will give Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl the job of appointing someone to fill out the remainder of Burrus’s term on the City Council, which runs through April 2017.

Burrus, 50, was first elected to the part-time position of alderman in 2009, winning 59 percent of the vote in a three way race against Mimi Peterson and Michael Drennan. She was unopposed for re-election in 2013.

The last time the mayor had to fill a vacancy on the City Council, in 2011, she selected Peter Braithwaite to replace Lionel Jean-Baptiste as 2nd Ward alderman after Jean-Baptiste was named a judge in the county court system. Braithwaite went on to win election to a full term in 2013.

In a statement, Burrus said the new job “is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the continued growth and success of the corporate and foundation relations enterprise” at Princeton.

Burrus, who before her appointment to the council served on the city’s Plan Commission, built a record as a fiscal hawk, concerned about the city’s spending practices, and generally favored development projects that supporters believed would bring more economic growth to the community.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. this is bad news

    While I am glad that Coleen is moving to a new position, this is definitely sad news for Evanston and the 9th ward. Despite her opposition to the proposed Tower at 708 Church before she was elected, as an alderman she was consistently a voice of reason, fiscal responsibility, and anti-NIMBYism. She was also very courageous , and righteous, when she openly endorsed Ed Tivador in his attempt to unseat Judy Fiske, and her general opposition to all of Fiske's nonsense. Given the mayor's record – and her history of appointing NIMBYs to various committees – I fear that the new alderman will be a total clown.

  2. Princeton is perfect!

    What fantastic news! I can't think of a place more perfect for Ald. Burrus to land than a wealthy town dominated entirely by a private university. She can live entirely wrapped in her little ivory tower now, untroubled by those pesky self-absorbed social service organizations, the citizens who rely on them, and the libraries who host them. Only one public library in Princeton! It's your dream come true, Ald. Burrus! Now, please, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    1. Mean Library Patron

      You really have a mean mouth and sound off like a very self-absorbed person.

      I did not agree with Colleen on everything she did in the council but I believe that she was the most level headed Alderperson on the council. She did not play the council spending games like the other members, "you back my spending project, I'll back yours. Do we have a deal?".

      Amoung the positive thing she has done:

      • She voted NO to the 2 million dollar parking lot that the city gave to Trader Joe's for free use for the next seventy-five years.
      • She voted to let Pritker build his hotel which would have generated enough money to finance the maintenance and upgrades to the other numerous city parks for many decades to come.
      • She voted no to letting the library build its kingdom and go on unaccountable spending sprees.

      Evanston is losing its best Council member and we will probably be stuck with another unaccountable big spender in her place.


      1. It was Wilson, not Burrus

        Opinions about Ms. Burris notwithstanding, I’d like to correct a previous comment that stated it was Burris who voted “no” on the Trader Joe’s 2 million dollar parking lot.  It wasn’t Ms. Burris, but Alderman Don Wilson of the 4th ward who was the only alderman to vote “no” on the TJ’s parking lot, stating he’s he's "reluctant to put city money into private enterprises."

        Alderman Wilson has consistently shown he’s the most fiscally responsible alderman, and I only wish he’d run for Mayor (except that then, selfishly, I’d be losing a great alderman as both my business and my home are in his 4th ward)!


    2. Happy for Colleen, Sad for Evanston

      In my opinion, Evanston would be a better place with more leaders like Colleen Burrus. Thank you, Colllen, for your service, your wisdom and most of all, your courage to challenge the status quo. You'll be missed.

    3. Really?

      Dear "Library Patron",

      It's people like Ms. Burrus that make Evanston a wonderful place to live.  I am very curious to know what you have done for this community lately?

      Brian G. Becharas

  3. No NU employee should be a council member

    I am not too sorry to see Burrus leave, she was a fiscal conservative when it served her purposes.

    Did she really represent us? As an employee of NU that is very questionable.  When did she ever propose NU pay for anything?

    As the library patron pointed out, Burrus behavior to the public was disgusting.  Her recent  personeel attack on the library board, was interesting to say the least. She was claiming they were spending too much money, yet did not even look at what they were doing. She basically questioned their qualifications with a nonsense point of view they were over educated.

    Burrus also attacked many other citizens in a personal manner, rather than sticking to the issues.

    I suspect only those who see Burrus as a fiscal responsible, are sad to she her go, NO NU employees should sit on the council.

    1. Discriminatory Policy?
      Isn’t eliminating a candidate based on their place of employment discriminatory? Shall we also exclude tall people from serving as Alderman? Or what about excluding certain religious groups? Maybe Gender? Sexual orientation? Or just plain ignorant people should be disqualified?

      I thought Evanston was an inclusive community, at least i hope it is, and will remain so, where different people can agree, and disagree in a respectful and civil manner.

      Let the voters continue to decide which candidates are qualified to serve on City Council.

      1. Conflict of interest issues ( real or not)

        While its clear the city can not stop a NU employee from running for council. Lets be honest, what employee who works for NU is going to push for NU to pay any money to the city.

        As I said Burrus never for all her so called fiscal conservative asked for her employer (NU) to help foot the bill for any item. 

        Also there are many matters coming before the council which NU has an interest, therefore while the city lawyers may say it's OK for a NU employee to vote, there is the appearance of conflict of interest.

        Unfortunately the voters, in Burrus ward did not understand, the issue.

      2. Discriminatory Policy?

        Thomas… don't forget Alderman that own and operate a business in Evanston and belong to the chamber of commerce.  Now wouldn't that be a conflict of interest?  The hypocrisy in Evanston is ridiculous.


      3. Discriminatory?

        Here's my (and many others) take on this. The city has many issues involving NU. It definitely is a conflict of interest to have an NU employee also represent Evanston citizens. This is a unique circumstance because NU is frequently at odds with the "city". That would put her on both sides of the fence. Where did her loyalty lie? It certainly wasn't always for the people, that's for sure.

        1. Conflict of Interests
          The key issue is disclosure and transparency. Does the City have the appropriate policies and procedures in place to require Alderman to recuse themselves when there is a conflict of interest?

          People know that Alderman Burrus is employed by NU. People know that other Alderman own a business and are members of the Chamber of Commerce. I would anticipate that other current or future Alderman have conflicts of interests, life is full of them.

          Let’s just make sure that all the issues are publicly disclosed and discussed so there are no surprises and hidden agendas.

    2. Did she really represent us?
      “Did she really represent us? As an employee of NU that is very questionable. When did she ever propose NU pay for anything? ”

      Junad,does your proposed prohibition of NU employees serving on council extend to other companies – either for-profit or nonprofit – in Evanston?
      Would you prohibit teachers at St. Athanasius or doctors at North Shore hospital?
      What about Judy Fiske and her pet food store? Certainly she can’t be trusted to be fair when it comes to issues related to sales tax, dog beaches, or attracting other businesses (that may also sell cat food) into Evanston?

      Maybe we should require that all aldermen are either independently wealthy and do not work, or they work outside of Evanston for companies that do no business in Evanston.

      Or maybe we should make the alderman position a full-time job, and pay them enough money so that they don’t need to work elsewhere.

      And should we prohibit NU students and employees from voting, because they might vote the wrong way contrary to the agenda of the “Long Time Native Born Seventh Generation Evanstonians”?

      What do you suggest? Enquiring minds want to know.

      1. Running off on a tangent

        You are running off on a tangent and making little sense.  I never suggest a employee of NU could not run for council, I will again clearify that the voters should not vote for the person, due to the continued conflict of interests they would face. People in Burrus ward appeared not to understand the problem, or maybe it was not well discussed in the election.

        To comparing Judy Fiske to Burrus, is not the same, unless the item would have a very direct impact. Using your thought process anyone on council would have a problem since they pay taxes, so voting on the budget as an example would be a problem.

        As another poster stated the issues with NU are big pocket book items, to taxpayers, and recently several have not been handle in our interest,  the council as totaled  voted for them. Maybe you will explain to us the value of selling a view to NU for their vistor's center and cutting down trees birds used in a city park for that?

        1. I understand your point

          You propose only people who agree with you sit on City Council. Got it loud and clear.

    3. Recuse
      Alderman Burris would recuse herself when council votes where Northwestern was involved. Perhaps your confusing her with the other alderperson that fails to do so when votes are about something that could increase there business

    4. Taxation Without Representation?

      As Alerman Burrus, many NU employees and alumni are current Evanston property owners with children who attend our schools. Do you suggest that we should just pay taxes and shut up? Wasn't there a revolution in our history under these terms?

  4. Alderman Burris Leaves for Princeton

    Opinions about Ms. Burris notwithstanding, I’d like to correct a previous comment that stated it was Burris who voted “no” on the Trader Joe’s 2 million dollar parking lot.  It wasn’t Ms. Burris, but Alderman Don Wilson of the 4th ward who was the only alderman to vote “no” on the TJ’s parking lot, stating he’s he's "reluctant to put city money into private enterprises."

    Alderman Wilson has consistently shown he’s the most fiscally responsible alderman, and I only wish he’d run for Mayor (except that then, selfishly, I’d be losing a great alderman as both my business and my home are in his 4th ward)!

    You can read all about it here:

  5. This a big hit for Evanston

    This a big hit for Evanston residents who believe in city government being accountable for their actions or lack-there-of. Coleen was a big contributor to improved traffic safety on Oakton and the 9th ward growth as well as a supporter of the those of us who actually work very hard to be able to afford to raise our families in Evanston. I'm happy for Coleen to move forward as she deserves to thrive in an environment where she will not be constantly be beaten down by myopic incompetent constituents.

  6. Congrats Alderman Burrus!

    What a huge loss for the City of Evanston. The truly only fiscal conservsative on the Council.I find the comments of the Library patron very offensive to Coleen, ..let me guess, you live in the 1ST ward and are a Fiske minion too?  Then there is another likely 1st warder and the riduculous NU comments and what Burrs should have doing regarding the university. Are you kidding me? Face it folks, Evanston doesn't look anything like it does without NU.

    Good luck Coleen and thank you for all your hard work and tireless hours you have put minrespresnting the 9Th ward.

  7. Thank you Coleen!

    Thank you Coleen for your faithful service to the needs of the people in your Ward! You have been a wonderful Alderperson and we are very lucky to have had you in our service. Best wishes for your next adventure in Princeton. Yours sincerely, Brian G. Becharas

  8. My Family Will Miss YOU Coleen!
    Coleen – you have represented the 9th Ward quite handily and my family and I will miss your common-sense voice on Council. From voting against ridiculous requests for new TIFs to spearheading safety issues to help 9th Ward homeowners live a safer and more comfortable lifestyle, THANK YOU. You should leave knowing you have improved quality of life for many of us!

    “Library Patron,” society and community seemingly have little importance in your life based on your post. Your comments are designed to create a wedge instead of pull our community together and they are fully some of the most mean-spirited comments I’ve read on this site in quite a while. You should know your commentary is unappreciated by many in our community. In future, perhaps you can make an effort and consider reigning in your vicious barbs. Certainly, there was no need for your to vocalize your thoughts since Coleen is leaving. Why bother to introduce negativity into our universe when the outcome does not require it?

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