Mayoral appointments — which generally sail through City Council approval without any comment — drew some controversy at Monday night.

Two aldermen, Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, and Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, voted against approving appointments to the Citizen Police Complaint Assessment Committee and the Preservation Commission.

Rue Simmons, in an interview this morning, said she was OK with some of the CPCAC appointees, but dissatisfied with others.

She particularly praised Joi-Anissa Russell from the Moran Center, a 5th Ward resident who, she said, has long been involved in criminal justice reform issues.

She said she also favored Karen Courtright, for her recent activism on police issues; Meggie Smith, who she said gone out of her way to make a difference; Jarek Davis, a long-time resident and father of young children, as well as Matt Mitchell, an immigration law attorney.

But she said she was concerned, in particular, about D. Vincent Thomas Jr., who is running as a Republican seeking to unseat long-time U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and already sits on the city’s Board of Ethics.

The search, she suggested, should have looked more broadly for community members with experience on the issues.

Thomas is a maritime law enforcement specialist with the U.S. Coast Guard.

As for the Preservation Commission, Rue Simmons said, the new appointees — Jamie Morris and Suzi Reinhold — seemed likely to continue the pattern in which the commission has ignored properties in historically black neighborhoods, especially institutional uses like Foster School and the former Community Hospital.

Update 7:24 a.m. 9/13/17: This story has been updated. While we thought that in the voice vote on the appointments the second no vote came from Alderman Cicely Fleming, Fleming has advised us that it was actually Alderman Judy Fiske who joined Rue Simmons in voting no.

Related story

Hagerty names police complaint panel (9/9/17)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Certainly no city group wants to have a Republican on board
    ‘But she said she was concerned, in particular, about D. Vincent Thomas Jr., who is running as a Republican..’
    This is typical for Evanston government. Good they finally openly say it.

    1. You must have missed the fact

      You must have missed the fact that a) the mayor appointed him, and b) the appointment was approved by the council.  Only two members voted no.

  2. So what’s the problem here?
    I suppose Robin Rue Simmons and Cicely Fleming agree with Courtright when she said last week at a Council meeting that “police are victims of a “white supremacy culture.”

    Love to hear more details about that. Please, someone in the media ask Courtright, Simmons, Fleming and the other equity activists more specific details about EPD and the white supremacist culture. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, ya know.

    If you go to Thomas’ Facebook page and website there is no mention at all that he’s running on the Republican ticket. Isn’t it possible he will challenge Schakowsky in the Democratic primaries?

    Regardless, how can Simmons be against Thomas’ appointment when he writes on his website: “This campaign does Not and Will Never stand with, support, or align itself with anyone who does not directly, boldly, and swiftly denounce all forms and instances of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and any other form of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred.” Why do Simmons and Fleming have a problem with Thomas?

    1. Thomas

      Two websites that track these things indicate Thomas is running as a Republican, though, given the demographics of the district, it’s easy to see why he wouldn’t be emphasizing that.

      — Bill

  3. My objection is because he
    My objection is because he was appointed to a committee this year and there are other applications that could have been considered.

    1. But just to be clear …

      Hi Robin,

      Just to be clear … in your phone conversation with me you also raised concerns about his running against Schakowsky. Perhaps you’ve decided since then to drop that as an issue, and that’s fine. But it was part of what you said at the time.

      — Bill

    2. So what if he is a Republican?

      Is the limit ONE committee appointment per person? This is ridiculous. This Evanstonian Black Man, with a passion for service and actual experience in the exact subject matter required for this specific committee is being questioned??? Why, exactly?

      Segregation and Discrimination. That is why.

      The Democratic and Republican parties must STOP this division. People’s lives are on the line here! Until we are able to foster healthy dialogue and JOIN together to solve the ills of society, we are doomed to fail! NOW is the time for a change. D. Vincent Thomas Jr. <> believes in putting “People Over Party” and should not be demonized based solely on the fact that he’s not a Democrat. Do we place more emphasis on the Democratic Party than we do on the Educated Black Man who serves his community and entire country in the US Coast Guard.

      By the way, if we happen to experience a Hurricane (God forbid) like those poor people in Florida, THIS is the man coming to rescue us. As he saves you from drowning, are you going to ask him if he’s a Democratic or Republican? See how ridiculous that sounds? We are drowning RIGHT NOW. His voice needs to be heard!

  4. Council vote on mayor’s appointments

    Hi Bill, 

    I voted yes, not no, on the mayor’s appointments. Voice votes can be confusing, but please ask me in future if you need clarification.


    Judy Fiske

    1. OK

      Hi Judy,

      Sorry about that. I just checked the report of City Council Actions from the clerk’s office, out today, and it says the second no vote was from Alderman Rainey, who, of course, sits right next to Alderman Fleming.

      Ann … was it really you?

      — Bill


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