Some of the questions around Evanston’s mayoral election may be answered Monday.

City Clerk Rodney Greene says that’s the tentative date for the city’s Electoral Board to meet and review challenges filed by mayoral candidate Jeff Smith seeking to have the other four candidates for mayor kicked off the ballot.

Since the board has already ruled against efforts by the campaign of another mayoral candidate, Brian Miller, remove some of the same candidates from the ballot, observers doubt that Smith has a big chance of success in front of the board.

But he could continue his challenge by filing a lawsuit in Circuit Court challenging the Electoral Board’s decision.

Even if Smith’s opponents are kicked off the ballot — they could still launch write-in campaigns for mayor.

And a write-in campaign could be successful. In 2005 Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste won re-election to his 2nd Ward seat with a write-in campaign after being kicked off the ballot by the Electoral Board on a 2-1 vote for failing to specify the office he was seeking on his nominating petitions.

Meanwhile early voting in the mayoral primary — and in the 5th Ward aldermanic contest where there are also five contenders, but no petition challenges — is scheduled to begin Monday, Feb. 13, at the Civic Center.

Early voting hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, through Monday Feb. 27. The primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28.

If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the race won’t be on the April general election ballot. If not, the top two finishers in the primary will advance to the general election.

Looking ahead to the April election, after a rather quiet race for City Council seats four years ago, with only three of the nine races contested, the city council election is back to a more common pattern with six contested races. There had also been six contested races in 2009 and 2001, with seven contested seats in 2005.

This is also the first time this century that there’s been a contested race for city clerk in Evanston.

The District 65 School Board will also likely inject more interest in the April balloting with an expected decision next week to place a school tax hike referendum on the ballot.

Update: 2:05 p.m.: The city’s Law Department now has confirmed that the Electoral Board meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Room 2404 at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Kick off the Kickers

    Both Brian Miller and Jeff Smith should be kicked off the ballot for trying to kick off other candidates.

    I won’t vote for either Miller or Smith given their “style”.

    Not necessary, not appropriate, not Evanston.

    I recognize the importance of the law, but trying to get other candidates kicked off the ballot due to a technicality is deplorable.

    Sorry Jeff, sorry Brian, but your approach smacks of dirty politics and raises questions about what other “tricks” you’d deploy as Mayor. TP

    1. Agreed
      I agree, Mr. Paine. They are not running on issues and ideas but backroom tricks.
      I also think that before the 2021 election, the city law department should clarify the rules and make this known to the city clerk, so that the proper information can be given to all potential candidates. (Any interference / interpretation at this juncture in the cycle for this election would be non-productive and lead to more issues.)
      Let anyone who wants to run do so, and hopefully put forth their ideas and plans to be judged by the voters.

    2. It is not clear that Smith’s
      It is not clear that Smith’s intent was to eliminate other candidates from the ballot, or it his intent was to clarify the rules and avoid a primary. When the laws are unclear, someone has to take action for them to be clarified, and it could be that Smith intended to do that. I’d like to hear from him on the matter before jumping to conclusions.

  2. I deplore the political

    I deplore the political behavior of Smith and Miller.  I wouldn’t vote for either one.

    1. Solution ? Eliminate or make purely “ceremonial” mayor’s office
      We don’t need both a mayor and city manager. I’m far from pleased with Wally [when he started we had hopes] but at least he has a purpose.
      This seems like a good time to eliminate the office. Given the current candidates and the lock one party has on the Council [o.k. residents are also to blame for electing them]. If we have to have a mayor, make if only for ribbon cutting, photo ops–no budget, no one reporting to him/her, etc.. Even presiding over Council meetings could best be handled by others.
      While at it, seems like a good time to cut the Council as was done before. Chicago has multiples of residents for each alderman that Evanston has.

  3. Law and Confusion

    It seems to me that there is a lot of confusion in the way the City conveys the proper procedures and especially the correct date/s for submitting a petition to run for office in Evanston… I hope that in the future this information can be clearly provided for potential mayoral candidates who wish to run for the most thankless office in any community in this land. We should be grateful that so many distinguished residents are willing to even consider undertaking this leadership role in Evanston. I have the pleasure of knowing (and liking) most of the mayoral candidates… It is important to note that Brian Miller (my Alderperson) and Jeff Smith (a fellow Green Activist) are both very talented lawyers… It is my experience that lawyers, by nature read the fine print very carefully – this generally is a very good attribute – especially if they are representing you in a complicated legal matter. It seems Messrs. Miller and Smith have identified a flaw in our system – And I want to thank them for identifying it… Let’s calm down, accept the full slate and fix this so that in the future there is no more confusion for those willing to put in the long hours of committed community service. I am confident that nobody (in this slate) wants to win an election unfairly. Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas P.S. To all candidates… I am looking forward to the Mayoral Debates or whatever we shall call the upcoming public information sessions… I don’t know enough about each of your policies and platforms to make an informed decision on who to support or vote for!

    1. Oops – sorry about the formatting

      Sorry about the formatting, when I corrected a mistake… it changed the spacing and paragraphs!

    2. Mayoral Forums

      Mr. Becharas, to your point on Mayoral Fourms (well, all candidate forums), the first has been scheduled for Jan 24 at Family Focus and will include a Meet ‘n Greet beginning at 5:15p (the forum begins at 6p). I am sure that there will be other opportunities to meet candidates and I hope that these events are well attended so that people can make an educated vote. Check here for more info on these first forums

      1. Clarification

        To clarify, here is the schedule for OPAL forums.
        1/24, OPAL and the NAACP will be hosting an Educational Forum (for school board candidates)  1/26 OPAL will host the Mayoral Candidates from 6-7p followed by Candidates for Ward 1, 6 & 8
        1/31 OPAL will host the 5th Ward Candidates from 6-7p followed by City Clerk, Ward 9 & 3

        Sorry for any confusion

    3. Mayoral issues
      And this is part of Devon Reid’s platform, to bring more transparency to the system. It is refreshing in having people like Brian Miller and Jeff Smith willing to call attention to the confusion, lack of clarity in the system.

      1. Clarification of Our Election Law

        I am hopefull that Jeff Smith will pursue his case to gain clarification and a definite answer to the questions surrounding election law in Evanston. Both he and  other candidates deserve more than the muddled mess that passes for election law today in this City. As for those who would use such queries as an excuse to make political attacks, it is clear that no one was ever or will be to be taken off the ballot. The more candidates on the ballot in a midwinter primary election, the greater the chance that those who support  the candidate of the established in Evanston will elect their man. It’s the “Illinois Way.” Flood the field and elect someone with a plurality in the dead of Winter. It’s the one – two of voter dilution and voter suppression and is as old as Cook County, has been the practice here in Evanston and throughout the State since 1818. So for those of you that either don’t understand the process are taking the opportunity to slur those who who seek legal clarification, relax your tone. If Evanston is so above it all, then you should welcome the drive for clarity as our municipal government nears perfecrtion in the political manner that you supposedly espouse. From the tenor of some of these comments, one would think that we were in Cicero.

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