If contributor dollars were votes, Elizabeth Tisdahl would narrowly edge out Barnaby Dinges in next week’s Evanston mayoral race.

But if candidate’s loans to their own campaign were votes, she’d win in a landslide.

Campaign finance reports filed with the state show that the four mayoral candidates have committeed a total of more than $106,000 to the race for the part-time job.

Three candidates have loaned money to their own campaigns — with Tisdahl kicking in $20,000, by far the largest amount. Dinges has loaned has campaign $5,000 while Jeanne Lindwall has ponied up $4,000 for her race. Stuart Opdycke reports not having loaned any money to his own campaign.


Major contributors to Tisdahl’s campaign have included her relatives, most of them not Evanston residents, who’ve given a total of at least $3,200.

She’s also received contributions in the $200 range from Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, from former 1st Ward alderman Art Newman and from long-time Evanston finance director Bill Stafford, who now is finance director for Evanston Township High School.

Other Tisdahl contributors who top the $150 threshhold for itemization are concentrated in Evanston’s lakefront wards, with several living in high-priced homes along the lake itself.


Itemized contributors to the Dinges campaign, with the exception of the candidate and his wife, all live outside of Evanston.

The contributions include $2,500 from Lester Crown, the Chicago philanthropist and Northwestern University trustee.

Others contributors include executives of businesses Dinges has worked with in his marketing career.


Opdycke’s itemized contributors, like Tisdahl’s, are concentrated along the lakefront, with the largest single number of donations coming from the 3rd Ward, where Opdycke lives.

Opdycke and Tisdahl have one contributor in common — long-time Evanston resident Leon Robinson, who owns the Hahn Building downtown as well as a number of other properties. He gave $200 to each of them.


Only a half dozen people have made contributions of over $150 to the Lindwall campaign. Those contributors are concentrated in the First Ward, where Linwall lives, and a number have spoken out publicly in the past in opposition to downtown development projects or Northwestern University activities.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dinges takes $2,500 from an NU Trustee
    “The contributions include $2,500 from Lester Crown, the Chicago philanthropist and Northwestern University trustee.”

    Unbelievable. The term “conflict of interest” has been thrown around quite a lot this campaign. If this isn’t a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is. He must not have been around 10 years ago when 80% of voters in Evanston passed the “fair share” referendum.
    I attended the last Mayoral Candidates forum at Boocoo. The candidates were asked how they would deal with NU, and what ideas they had to perhaps reach an agreement with NU for contributions in lieu of paying property taxes. Dinges’s grand plan? To have Evanstonians get into football games at half time for 50% off. His other idea was to have the NU homecoming parade end in downtown Evanston. That will surely bring in much needed revenue to the city. What a sick joke.
    This guy just took $2,500 from a Trustee who would ultimately vote on any agreement the City of Evanston and Northwestern could ever hope to come to. No more needs to be said.

  2. Campaign funding
    “Itemized contributors to the Dinges campaign, with the exception of the candidate and his wife, all live outside of Evanston.”

    Wow. Why Barnaby? Please explain.

    1. Dinges has Many Contributions from Evanstonians
      Just so you know, my campaign received six $100 or $50 contributions from Evanstonians, and three $100 contributions from Evanston small businesses. I expect to get more such contributions this Sunday at a end-of-campaign fundriaser at The Stained Glass.

      Also, I have many contributions from former Evanstonians who live nearby.

      Barnaby Dinges

      1. Dinges for Mayor of Northwestern University
        You’re boasting about receiving $900 from Evanstonians? Where did the rest of your $23,000 come from? And Why? Who are these people and why did they contribute to your campaign? It is unprecedented that a mayoral candidate has received nearly all of his campaign contributions from those who live outside of Evanston. You still haven’t addressed accepting $2,500 from an NU Trustee.
        This is uncharted territory, even for Evanston politics.

      2. Dinges caught in Mimi’s web
        It is funny to see Barnaby getting criticized for being too closely associated with NU. As I said before, this is a stupid non-issue. But Barnaby had it coming.

        Remember, Barnaby was out campaigning with Mimi – the infamous NU-hater. Barnaby called her a ‘good candidate’. Barnaby didn’t want to take sides in the 9th ward race, because he wants to get along with everybody – so while Mimi was running an anti-NU campaign, and saying that Burrus has a ‘conflict of interest’ because she works for NU, Barnaby was silent – or having burgers with Mimi.

        Also Barnaby didn’t take a strong stand against the ‘Fair Share’ stupidity. While Opdycke clearly states that conflict with NU is a dead end, Barnaby includes language in his fliers that suggest he is sympathetic to the ‘Fair Share’ clowns.

        So now Barnaby is having Mimi’s tactics used against him: “Barnaby taking money from NU trustee! Scandal! Conflict of Interest!”

        This reminds of the story of Peter Parker (Spider-Man). Peter Parker obtained superhuman spider powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Let’s have Wikipedia take it from here:
        “As Spider-Man, he becomes a successful TV star. One day at a studio he refuses to stop a thief, saying that it is the job of the police not that of a number one star. Minutes later his beloved guardian, Uncle Ben, is murdered and an angry Spider-Man sets off to capture the killer. When he does, he is horrified to find that the man is none other than the burglar he refused to subdue. Learning that with great power comes great responsibility, Spider-Man becomes a vigilante.

        Barnaby refused to stand up to Mimi, and looked the other way when Mimi attacked Burrus, and refused to get involved. Now Barnaby is horrified to find that Mimi’s arguments are being used against him.

        Spider-Man learned his lesson: “With great power comes great responsibility”. Has Barnaby learned his?

        1. What ‘out-campaigning’
          what ‘out-campaigning’ together are you talking about?? They may have attended the same party, but so what? That doesn’t mean they automatically endorse each other.

  3. Lester Crown is a Member of the ETHS Hall of Fame …
    … and one of the most esteemed businesss leaders in America. I’m proud to have such a wise and generous person support my campaign to be Evanston’s new Mayor. And regarding Northwestern, I’m the only candidate who has distilled a position on City-University relations, and I did so in an 11/18/08 news release that started like this >>

    EVANSTON, IL – Barnaby Dinges today announced that if he becomes Evanston’s new mayor in May, he will immediately call for a summit with Northwestern University, the Evanston Chamber of Commerce and local entrepreneurs to identify ways the school and City can better collaborate to improve the local economy and community.

    “Evanston will soon have a new mayor and Northwestern will have a new president,” Dinges said. “This creates an opportunity to forge a new beginning and a relationship that benefits both communities. We are stronger together. One thing that’s clear in my hundreds of conversations with long-time Evanston residents – they want to see an end to the tension between the campus and the town. The time is right to get something done. I plan to lead the effort.”

    Dinges identified additional areas where he believes Northwestern and the City can team up to collaborate in ways that will benefit both:

    • Economic development and job creation
    • Traffic control and public safety
    • Wind energy development and municipal electricity
    • Filling Ryan Field (and other sports venues) with fans from Evanston

    For the rest of the release, visit http://www.dingesformayor.com and click on the “news” tab.

    1. NU Trustee contributes $2,500 to Dinges
      So what if Lester Crown is a member of the ETHS Hall of Fame? What has that got to do with anything? How has that benefited Evanston over the years he has been on the Board of Trustees at Northwestern University? Please explain why you took a huge sum of money (in relative terms for Evanston electoral politics) from a guy who will potentially vote on issues directly affecting agreements between the City of Evanston and NU. Wind energy? Decades away. Traffic control and public safety? There’s already an agreement. Filling Ryan field? That will not generate the kind of revenue Evanston needs immediately.
      How about this? What will you do as Mayor to prevent NU from purchasing property in Evanston (such as 1800 Sherman), thereby removing it off the property tax rolls? Removal of 1800 Sherman will cost the tax payers of Evanston $300,000 each and every year in PERPETUITY.
      How will you and your generous buddy address this critical issue? What is Trustee Crown’s position on removing property off the tax rolls in cash strapped Evanston?

      1. NU connections
        I am no fan of Barnaby, but this is a really stupid issue..

        Northwestern is in Evanston. Many Evanston residents are employees or students. It really is obnoxious to suggest that we should be excluded from city government.

        This stupid anti-NU argument has been used against aldermanic candidates (including one of my colleagues at Kellogg) before, and is currently being used by Mimi against Colleen Burrus. ( Mimi’s husband is a plumber..the city’s building codes may have an impact on his business…is that a conflict? )

        Almost any business person has a conflict. As long as these are made public, and the person abstains from voting where necessary, there is no problem.

        There are many reasons not to vote for Barnaby, but this isn’t one of them.

  4. Anonymous Tisdahl supporters want to change the facts
    It appears to me Tisdahl supporters are interested in chnaging the facts the Evanston Machine and the fire figthers PAC are her major supporters.

    Picking up on a NU trustee, is interesting, but even Mr WHO for once understands the non-issue.

    One poster here is concern non-residents have given to Barnaby, given the Mayor can not award work but the council does I do not see much chance for him to give any favors to business associates.

    Some of us understand the politics here and the misuse of our tax dollars, that exists, and who might be influencing who for what favors.

    On the other hand those who took PAC funds have a much bigger problem since they are directly involved with the pay issues of the fire fighters, Liz Tisdahl took their support this election and in the past election. ( here again even Mr Who understands this issue )

  5. Only One 7th Ward Candidate Accepts No Donations-O’Connor
    I don’t know if you’re inclined, because there are too many aldermanic candidates. But it would be interesting to know the money raised for John Zbesko and Jane Grover etc.. I believe I’m the only candidate in any of the contested races, who is accepting no money. It is surprising that if any candidate should be self financed it’s Ald. Tisdahl, but I guess you can never have enough money, even with a staggering personal fortune.

    I don’t have to tell anyone, hopefully, that a lot of our problems in Washington, Springfield, Chicago and yes, even our Evanston are tied to loose or non existent campaign finance laws.

    Congratulations to Barnaby on Lester Crown’s financial endorsement! Mr. Crown is highly qualified and knows talent, when he sees it. I would also add, that there are many citizens that have volunteered and supported Barnaby’s grass roots campaign since it’s start last year. Those numbers continue to grow by the day! While they don’t register in a campaign finance statement, these are great numbers of Evanston voters, whose contributions are priceless.

    Kevin O’Connor
    7th Ward Aldermanic Candidate

    1. Lack of opportunity for vice should not be mistaken for virtue
      ” . I believe I’m the only candidate in any of the contested races, who is accepting no money.”

      Probably because nobody has offered to donate money.

      It is interesting that Kevin sings the praises of Barnaby. I believe that Kevin, like Barnaby, is helping the Machine by splitting the anti-machine vote and taking attention away from the faults of the Machine candidates.

      While Zbesko is annoying, he is less annoying than Grover and her CSNA/Machine friends.

    2. O’Connor needs to reboot his logic
      “I believe I’m the only candidate in any of the contested races, who is accepting no money.”

      “Congratulations to Barnaby on Lester Crown’s financial endorsement!”

      You boast about not accepting money as if that is some kind of virtue to be admired by the voters in the 7th ward. Then you congratulate Dinges for accepting $2,500 from an NU Trustee who lives in Winnetka.


  6. Judy Fiske . . . support from Highland Park business???
    Saw the brand-new Audi, compliments of Highland Park Audi, around town today with the giant Judy Fiske signage on top. What, she couldn’t get an Evanston auto dealer to support her? Does this mean Highland Park Audi thinks Judy Fiske as Evanston alderperson would be good for THEIR business?

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