Seven Evanstonians who want to become the next 9th Ward council member sat in the City Council chambers on Thursday night, but only one of them will get to come back for the next year in an official capacity.
The seven hopefuls gave biographical statements, and then all answered the same questions from Mayor Daniel Biss, who will choose one of them to replace Cicely Fleming, who resigned.
All spoke on the importance of communication, of staying in touch with 9th Ward residents through things like ward meetings, office hours and social media.
And while they all agreed on many things, there were different answers to the question “What is the one issue you are most excited about” working on?
Answers are in the order they were given during the forum:
Juan Geracaris (systems adminstrator at NU): Affordable housing. “I don’t want anyone to have to move out of Evanston because of a decision I made.”
Stacia Campbell (former teacher/now career counselor): Hiring the new city manager. “Should we really think outside the box” and consider larger issues rather than a day-to-day administrator?
Dan Coyne (school social worker): Affordable housing. “How can we keep our city affordable? Not everyone can afford $4,000 a month rent.”
Kathelyn Hayes (retired social services case manager): Public safety. “If you don’t feel safe you won’t be able to achieve any of the other issues.”
Frederic Goodwill (attorney): Intersection between housing and environmental justice. “People are facing a multitude of environmental issues,” such as lead pipe replacement.
Christopher Shawn Jones (attorney): Small business development, and “getting the butcher paper off of those buildings downtown” that are vacant.
Sebastian Nalls (college student/ran for mayor in 2021): Affordability and livability. “Residents are being priced out of Evanston.”
An eighth declared candidate, Nickolas Stamed, did not attend, and the mayor said he is apparently no longer interested.
The mayor’s pick must be approved by City Council.
Biss said he hopes to make his choice by the middle of next week, and present that person to Council for a vote on Feb. 28.
Biss also noted that the new alderperson will need to run for election next year. The rest of the Council isn’t up for election until 2025.
The mayor said he was “very, very impressed” by the commitment to public service shown by the seven contenders.
“I have no doubt that whomever is chosen,” he said, “we could draw a name out of a hat and that person would be enthusiastically approved” by Council.