Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz announced his resignation today in a email message to city staff. He said Friday, Sept. 27, will be his last day on the job in Evanston, and he’ll start his new job as city administrator in Issaquah, Washington, on Monday, Sept. 30.

In his message he said he’s proud of the “talented, diverse group of people” in the team he assembled to work in city government here.

He noted that part one crime has declined over 30 percent and violent crime is down more than 60 percent since 2009 and that more than 2,000 new housing units have been added or are under construction in the city.

Here’s the text of his message:

Today I will submit my resignation as City Manager to Mayor Hagerty and the City Council effective September 27, 2019. I will begin a new role as City Administrator of Issaquah, Washington on September 30, 2019.

It is hard to put into words what it has meant to serve Evanston as its City Manager. We are fortunate to work in a community that is blessed with so many natural and material resources. People want to be in Evanston to live, work, play, shop and go to school. The work that we do here every day enhances these experiences, regardless of our role. Community members have high expectations of what is means to be an Evanstonian and I have welcomed the challenge to meet these expectations.

During my ten years as City Manager, I am most proud of the team I have assembled to serve the community. The men and women who lead the City are a talented, diverse group of people who are at the top of their respective municipal professions. The good work accomplished by the City is done thanks to the leadership of these outstanding individuals.

Working together, the City has accomplished a great deal in the last ten years. 

  • Public safety improved. Since 2009, Part One crimes have decreased over 30 percent and violent crime has decreased over 60 percent. The Evanston Fire Department was designated as a “Class 1” department, one of only 305 fire departments in the United States with this classification.
  • Customer service and government transparency were enhanced. Evanston 311 was launched in 2011, handling more than 1 million phone calls in its first eight years and providing residents with a one-stop shop for City services. The City now communicates and engages with residents daily through more than 30 electronic newsletters, regular ward and town hall meetings, dozens of social media channels, community outreach initiatives on the budget and major City projects, an open data portal, and an award-winning City website.
  • A focus was placed on human and social services. The City assumed the role of Evanston Township, established a Federally Qualified Health Center, and created the City’s Youth and Young Adult Division.
  • Evanston’s economy grew stronger. Evanston enjoys a robust 94.2 percent office occupancy rate. Two new Tax Increment Finance districts at Dempster/Dodge and Main/Chicago were created. Howard Street was revitalized. The Main-Dempster Mile SSA and four new neighborhood business associations were established. Two closed Dominick’s grocery stores were filled. The Autobarn car dealerships were expanded and retained. A new Hyatt hotel, Trader Joe’s, downtown Target and countless other small businesses and restaurants opened, continuing to make Evanston a vibrant shopping and dining destination.
  • Housing options increased. Since the Great Recession, more than 2,000 new market-rate housing units have been added or are under construction, and the City has added or supported affordability of over 500 units of housing. The City recommitted itself to affordable housing issues through the $18.5 million NSP2 initiative and a revised inclusionary housing ordinance.
  • Evanston strengthened its partnership with Northwestern University. The first “Good Neighbor Agreement” was established, bringing $5 million to the City over five years to support a variety of projects and services.
  • Water sales expanded. The City increased wholesale water sales to Niles, Morton Grove, and Des Plaines, and in 2020, Lincolnwood.  These new partnerships bring Evanston drinking water to over 400,000 customers in the region and a steady stream of new revenue to the City.
  • The Evanston Public Library evolved. The Evanston Public Library was revitalized with the creation of a dedicated property tax levy and control of services transferred to the Library Board in conformance with Illinois law. Library services now extend beyond borrowing books to include tax assistance, social services, job counseling and much more.
  • The City invested in its infrastructure. The City placed a new focus on street and alley revitalization, water and sewer improvements, and protected bike lanes. The Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center was created, Fountain Square was renovated, and later this year, a new Robert Crown Community Center will open.
  • Evanston became a national leader in sustainability. The City adopted a Green Building Ordinance, raised awareness for environmental sustainability and livability through two climate action plans, implemented an electricity aggregation program, earned two Four Star STAR Community designations, and was selected as the 2015 US Earth Hour Capital.
  • Equity was prioritized. The first Chief Equity Officer and LGBTQ Liaison positions were created. In conjunction with City’s Equity and Empowerment Commission, the City began work on equity training for all staff and a review of City programs through an equity lens.
  • Transportation options and planning were enhanced. The first Transportation and Mobility Coordinator position was created to focus efforts citywide on transportation issues. The City brought Divvy Bikes to Evanston, providing residents with a new public transportation option, and the City invested $500,000 with the Chicago Transit Authority to begin Purple Line modernization north of Howard Street.
  • Evanston’s arts community thrived. A new focus on arts planning and coordination was established with the “EvanstARTS” initiative, a revitalized Evanston Arts Council, public art program, and planning for a new downtown performing arts center.  

Evanston will always be a special place for me, not just because of the accomplishments above, but because it is also the place where I started my family.  My wife, Patrice, and I were married only a few weeks when we moved to Evanston.  Our son, Wally IV, was born here in 2016 and was able to start his young life in this wonderful, diverse community.

Thank you for the privilege of working with all of you.  It is has been the honor of my professional career.

Related stories

Bobkiewicz 2nd longest serving manager here (8/13/19)

Bobkiewicz gets job in Washington state (8/11/19)

Bobkiewicz front runner for Issaquah job (8/6/19)

Bobkiewicz meets residents of Washington town (7/26/19)

Bobkiewicz finalist for another Washington state job (7/24/19)

Alderman gripes about city manager’s job search (2/7/19)

Bobkiewicz not chosen for Oregon job (1/23/19)

Bobkiewicz seeks job in Oregon (12/29/18)

Tacoma wraps up city manager search (5/16/17)

Bobkiewicz pulls out of Tacoma job hunt (5/13/17)

Bobkiewicz finalist for manager job in Tacoma (5/3/17)

Californian named Evanston city manager (6/9/09)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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