John Zbesko's blog

Thank you, President Obama

Tonight, President Obama announced the end of combat operations in Iraq. I was moved, not by his oratory, but by my memory of standing along Ridge Avenue, candle in hand, observing the 1,000th US casualty, then the 2,000th, then the 3,000th casualty. I support the troops and I hope they come home.


To all Evanstonians who worked to make this day possible, thank you.

What to do about the branch libraries?

Like the NU Wildcats coming back against the Auburn Tigers, Evanston's branch libraries have  survived numerous budgets. But ultimately, the Wildcats lost and the branches most likely will fall to the current budget crisis. Emails are flying back and forth with requests for volunteers and arguments about the valuable services the branches give to our community.

Lessons Learned

The yard signs are long gone; the new Council has been seated. Detailed voting data is now available from the Cook County Clerk's office. I support Alderman Grover and I offer belated thanks to my supporters. Running for public office is a learning experience and I would like to share my lessons.

Differences between 7th Ward Candidates

Over the course of this campaign, I have endeavored to articulate my positions and explain my reasoning process. I have spoken at City Council meetings, written blogs and responded to others'. My opponents in the 7th Ward aldermanic race have not been as prolific, but with several forums and multiple questionnaires from various community groups, differences in positions and opinion are beginning to emerge.

Towards a Greener Evanston

Opening statement to Citizens for a Greener Evanston/Evanston Public Library forum:

I want to especially thank Citizens for a Greener Evanston for sponsoring tonight's forum because it gives us a chance to talk about something else besides budgets and zoning, positions and policy. I'm eager to answer your questions about environmental issues and Evanston.

The difference between a lawyer and economist

(Opening statement, League of Women Voters Evanston forum)

Like all the candidates running for an Evanston office, I have lived in Evanston for a long period of time, have been involved in the community and am eager and willing to serve you in elective office. I would like to take this opportunity to explain why I am a unique candidate for 7th ward alderman.

Firefighters Endorsement: Statement by John Zbesko, Candidate, 7th Ward Alderman

Since the issue of the the firefighters union endorsements has flared up, I would like to describe my interview with the director of the firefighters' PAC.  I was eager to win their endorsement. I know several firefighters who are Evanston residents and I have coached some of their children and they have coached some of mine. I appreciate the major efforts they have made in helping elect Democratic candidates to county, state, and national office.

Opening Statement to CSNA Candidates Forum

Dear friends and neighbors,

For me, running for alderman is the culmination of two decades of community involvement and professional development. I've prepared for this job and timed it in my life. I've taken leadership classes and have flexible hours from my employer. I've run a political organization and I have a public record as trustee of a property tax district.

Tonight, you will hear a lot about experience and qualifications, opinions and ideas. I would like to take  this time to talk about what “Evanston resident since 1986” means.

Camel's Nose Under the Tent

At the Planning and Development Committee meeting February 9, a zoning change for 912-946 Pitner was introduced. The proposed change was from Industrial to Mixed Use, thus allowing someone to live in the area. Two protagonists appeared- someone who wished to develop a commercial condo in which someone could live in a loft-type residence and a very long-time business owner who was concerned about disruption to this industrial area.

The Heart, the Mind, and the Ears

In my blogs and speeches so far as candidate for alderman, I have emphasized my knowledge and experience, listing intellectual credentials and professional accomplishments. But I realize that a successful alderman must have a heart as well as mind (and both need to be connected to ears.) As I prepare myself to become a successful alderman, I realize I need people skills- navigating a spreadsheet is not enough.

Discussing pennies and nickels, glossing over dollars

Last night (2/3/09), the City Council spent at least a half hour discussing the budget for training for city employees. The HR person described how the training budget was cut in half from over $100K to about $60K (keeping 10 different programs at about $6K each.) Earlier in January, the Council spent time discussing a $7,000 expenditure on office furniture.

Mosquitoes and Evanston

Three years ago, I asked Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin for ideas on how I might contribute to public service. He suggested a trusteeship on the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (NSMAD) board. “Mosquitoes?”, I replied, “What do I know about mosquitoes?” Experience as an entomologist was not required. Instead, I was asked to serve because of my financial background and my recent experience as President of the Democratic Party of Evanston.

Econ 101 - Water and Sewer Rates

At the Evanston City Council Budget Workshop on November 17, City staff presented a study on water and sewer cost of service rates and fees. A deficit is projected, primarily because water usage has declined by over 16% since 1998, resulting in less revenue. Given the large increase in rates to pay for the improved storm sewer system, is it any wonder that Evanston residents have cut back their usage?