Mayoral candidate and local businessman Steve Hagerty managed to put together a bigger base of supporters as well as far outspend his opponents to finish first in Tuesday’s Evanston mayoral primary.

Second-place finisher Mark Tendam got by with less money, but was unable to assemble as big a base of supporters.


Here’s a look at the election by the numbers.

Hagerty received more than twice as many votes as the second-place finisher — 4,369 to Tendam’s 2,022.

Brian Miller was just 168 votes back of Tendam in third place.

Only the top two finishers in the race bothered to list their supporters on their campaign websites. Hagerty got off to an early start on that. Tendam launched his website much later and didn’t make it quite as easy for people to add themselves to the list.

In the competition for marquee names in the local community, Hagerty also stood out, with endorsements from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and former Mayor Lorraine Morton as well as three aldermen — Peter Braithwaite, Delores Holmes and Eleanor Revelle.

Tendam received endorsements from U.S. Rep Jan Schakowsky and MWRD Comr. Debra Shore.

Notably neither of the two alderman running for mayor — Tendam and Miller — received endorsements from any of their fellow aldermen. In Miller’s case that may not have been surprising, since he ran a largely oppositional campaign — challenging many City Council decisions.

In the more ephemeral world of Facebook likes — where anybody might say they “liked” any number of candidates — the numbers were closer.

But there, too, Hagerty got out to an early lead and finished on top.

In the money race, Hagerty has been far in front. As a business owner who has grown his startup consulting firm to have more than 100 employees, he has far more financial resources than his competitors, as indicated by the loans he’s made to his own campaign.

But he’s also been more successful than his competitors in bringing in contributions from other local residents.

And Evanston, while it has a lot of supporters of campaign finance limits, hasn’t hesitated to vote for the biggest-spending candidate in the past.

Mayor Tisdahl, in her initial bid to become mayor, greatly outspent her challengers and made substantial loans to her own campaign.

Total expenditures by the four candidates in that 2009 campaign were nearly $118,000 — with Tisdahl spending more than half of it.

Expenditure totals for this election won’t be known until after the general election is over. But the candidates have already reported raising a total of nearly $232,000 — nearly twice as much as was spent eight years ago.

With just under 20 percent of Evanston’s registered voters turning out for the primary, the money raised per vote gained calculation this year looks fairly striking — ranging from $7.72 for fifth place finisher Gary Gaspard to $34.26 for Hagerty.

Of course what matters now is how the voters of the three losing candidates will realign themselves for the general election and how residents who failed to vote in the primary but show up for the general election will cast their ballots.

We’ll know the answers in five weeks.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. mayoral race

    I have been quite puzzled during this campaign about all the issues that various candidates said they would accomplish.  In fact, the mayor of Evanston has very limited powers. We are a council-manager form of government, unlike the city to the south of us which has an emperor (oops, mayor) As I understand them, they are: chairing city council meetings; voting in case of a tie (with a 9-member council, ties are rare in my 50 + years experience in evanston), nominating citizens to boards and commissions (council has final approval), chairing the liquor control board (council has final say in granting liquor licenses), representing Evanston at various national meetings, and wielding a shovel at various groundbreakings.  The mayor certainly can lobby council members about a certain piece of legislation, but THAT’S IT.  I have wondered all along why all these various qualified and hard-working candidates would want to spend lots of money (in the case of Mr. Hagerty) to be elected to a position with very little power.  It will look terrific on a resume, I agree. I personally will vote for my alderman, Mark Tendam in the actual election.  

    Mary Brugliera

    1. Mayoral primary victory

      Congratulations to a good man who wants to spend time helping Evanston plan for the next four years. Change isn’t easy, but, I know Steve will get the job done for all residents. Please support him in the upcoming run off election.

      1. Mark was my alderman before I

        Mark was my alderman before I moved into the 1st Ward.   He was a GREAT alderman.  I donated to his campaign & voted for him :  I will donate more for the general election !

        I sincerely believe that have City Council experience is important for any new mayor.

        of course, by her own admission 8 years ago, Liz Tisdahl ran for mayor because Mayor Morton Sked her to do so.

        maybe we could save a lot of money by eliminating elections & have an incumbent Mayor just pick the next mayor.    Why bother with elections & citizens choices?   (Sarcasm, sarcasm, just

        in case you missed it.). 

      2. Reply

        I would have preferred that Mr. Haggerty put some of that money toward affordable housing….becuase I am worried that his experience as a developer might supercede his recent claims of of support for the lower income parts of our diverse community.

  2. I don’t think I received

    I don’t think I received campaign mail from any of the candidates (although I live in one of the places in Evanston where the mail frequently is mis-delivered or not delivered..) I voted for Hagerty because he has run a complex business succesfully and thus clearly has managerial skills. I am frequently dumstruck by the illogical thinking and actions of the council (and city staff). Accordingly I would not vote for one of the current council members for Mayor and would like to see someone chair those meetings who has strong reasoned decision making skills. Hagery will have my vote again in April.

  3. Do What You’ve Always Done…Get What You’ve Always Got

    First, I am grateful to the five citizens who put themselves out there to run for Mayor of Evanston. At times, I read the nasty comments made about public figures making hard choices and wonder why anyone wants to do this job. But five good people raised their hands, and we should all be grateful to them.

    I voted for Steve Hegarty in the primary, and unless something dramatic happens, will do so again in April. For me, he brings fresh ideas, experience in helping communities think about their futures differently, and gravitas. We desperately need good jobs in Evanston…good jobs that come from entrepreneurs and expansion of existing businesses. Hegarty is the one candidate that I see who has the vision, experience and ideas to sit across the table and negotiate with a business leader about jobs in Evanston. Mr. Tendham seems like a nice enough guy, but our string of nice enough mayors have resulted in empty storefronts and fast food jobs. I don’t think either candidate would be bad for Evanston, just think Hegarty would be much better.


  4. Getting better candidates who serve all
    Some suggestions for cleaning out the dead wood have been suggested for Congress and state legislatures and Evanston should consider:
    1. Term limits
    2. All terms for offices [e.g. aldermen 2 years, state and federal reps 2, senators 4Y] expire at the same time. Candidates get elected in their ward, district, etc but after elected draw ‘from a hat’ to determine which ward, district, they will represent. This means they will have a wider view and priorities.
    3. Require a higher percent of votes to get elected each term. 50% first term, 2-5% more second term, 4-10% third term.

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