Two candidates seeking to succeed Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton say the mayor is giving an unfair advantage to the candidate she’s endorsed in the four-way contest.

Barnaby Dinges and Stuart Opdycke say Morton’s decision to let Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, lead the city’s effort to secure funding under the federal economic stimulus package is inappropriate and lets Tisdahl take credit for work that should be done by the mayor herself.

Morton, who’s retiring at age 90 after serving 16 years as mayor, six years ago selected Tisdahl, a former Evanston Township High School board member, to succeed Steve Engleman who resigned half way through an aldermanic term.

Last fall, as Tisdahl describes it, the mayor called her to her office, confided she planned to retire and encouraged Tisdahl to run to succeed her. The mayor now is serving as an honorary co-chair of Tisdahl’s campaign.

Earlier this week Tisdahl came under fire for the inclusion of a $90 million proposal to reconstruct the Civic Center in the stimulus wish list.

She said she didn’t favor the idea but that the majority of aldermen wanted to include it.

But the Daily Northwestern today quoted several other aldermen as saying they had not favored including the Civic Center proposal in the wish list either.

Opdycke, in a comment posted on Evanston Now, said he was less concerned about the inclusion of the Civic Center project on the list than that the list was sent to federal officials under the signature of Alderman Tisdahl with copies to the city manager and mayor. “Who’s running the railroad over there?” Opdycke asked.

Dinges said the lack of a leadership role by the mayor on the stimulus plan is disturbing. “I know why she’s taking a back seat, but it looks strange and harms our collective effort.”

Both men said the mayor should have taken the lead in preparing the list.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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