About 150 people turned out this evening at the Hilton Garden Inn to help Evanston businessman Steve Hagerty kick off his campaign for mayor.

Those in attendance included two former mayors — Jay Lytle and Lorraine Morton — and Aldermen Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, as well as former 7th Ward Alderman Jane Grover.

Hagerty, who moved to Evanston in 2001 so his wife could pursue a graduate degree at Northwestern University, launched his emergency management consulting firm here just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks.

It’s since grown to have over 150 employees, and Hagerty says he now has “a terrific management team” to run day-to-day operations so he has the time to run for mayor.

Business owner and Hagerty contributor Joe Flanagan of Acquirent at the campaign event.

In a more than 30 minute speech to the crowd, Hagerty recounted his childhood in Massachusetts, where he said he learned to be an entreprenuer selling eggs and milk from his parents’ farm and delivering the local newspaper.

“Every child and teenager should have the opportunity to work,” he said, praising efforts by retiring Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to create more summer jobs for young people in Evanston.

After earning a masters degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Hagerty says he applied and was rejected for jobs at 75 government agencies, before finally landing a position with the Price Waterhouse consulting firm — based largely, he suggested, on an interviewer who was impressed with his entrepreneurial summer job building lofts for student dorm rooms at Syracuse.

Hagerty talking to supporters before his speech.

Hagerty said he’s lived and worked in many places around the country and said few communities can compare to Evanston as a desirable place.

“People here really care and there’s a tremendous amount of diversity that adds to the richness of life,” he said.

“We have an amazing lakefront, and residents long ago decided not to develop the lakefront — the right decision so everbody can enjoy it.” he added.

“And we have a really good, well-run government.”

“We have our challenges,” Hagerty said, “but we have the resources, talent, passion and knowledgeable people who care and want to work on these issues.”

He identified affordable housing and controlling property taxes as key issues.

Checking in for the event.

“Raising property taxes is directly correlated with decreasing the socioeconomic diversity of a community, he said, and the city needs to decide how to best spend affordable housing dollars, now that the inclusionary housing ordinance is creating some revenue for that fund.

He said the city’s recreation programs need more investment, and alluding to his chairmanship of the mayor’s Harley Clarke advisory committee, he said the city needs to decide whether to spend money on “an old dilapidated property on the lake” or on rebuilding the Robert Crown Center, “a center that serves everybody.”

Campaign finance reports filed with state election officials this week show Hagerty far in front of other candidates in fundraising for the mayoral race.

He’s raised over $34,000 and loaned his campaign nearly $32,000 of his own money while spending nearly $25,000 on the race so far, leaving him with more than $42,000 on hand.

Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, last week converted a committee he’d used in his race for Democratic Party committeeman for use in the mayoral race and showed contributions of $7,490 for the third quarter with expenditures of less than $1,000 and $10,000 on hand.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, showed no fundraising activity for the third quarter and a debt of nearly $3,000 left over from his last race for City Councl.

Former Township Supervisor Gary Gaspard, who only announced plans to enter the race a few days ago, has yet to file any campaign finance reports.

More Election 2017 news

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Question—who does use Robert Crown
    Quote from speaker “… or on rebuilding the Robert Crown Center, “a center that serves everybody.”
    Aside from those within 1/4 mile of Crown and rich parents that can afford hockey for their kids, who uses Crown ?
    Will the other recreation centers like Chandler also get major upgrades ? Hockey and ice skating ?
    Even when I lived in south Evanston, I was only there twice for what amounted to “looking around.” I’ve asked friends and none has been there and many have barely heard the name except for calls to re-model it.

    1. PreSchool, Day Care and

      PreSchool, Day Care and Afterschool Care. Open Gym. Gymnastics classes.Dance Classes. Pottery. Open Skate. Summer camps. It's a little of everything, plus more if there is a library addition.

      EYHA offers financial assistance to kids who need it. 

    2. Just what we need, another

      Just what we need, another wealthy person who chooses to be mayor as a hobby. Any of the running Aldermen stand better chances and getting real things done as Mayor. 

      1. Only 2
        Hagerty and Miller are the only 2 I would consider worthy of being mayor. Hagerty is a new face with promise and Miller is a new alderman that has shown he has not been corrupted yet, with the you vote for my project, I’ll vote for yours. The mayor and the rest of the council have not shown that they are concerned with the taxpayer’s dollar and do not deserve to be re-elected to anything.

      2. Running aldermen

        Better chances at "kicking back (the can) further under the table to get things done".  If he supports the new RC recreational center then, his job is done.  The library parking lot will be history to make way for a new high rise that exceeds the height standards to create a further vacuum and create a superb view of the lake.  There was at one time talk about making downtown Evanston a mall. Maybe he will go for that okeydokey therefore; eliminating cars AND bikes and all the $$$$$$$$$$$ it will cost to maintain the paint on the road.   

      3. Bloombergesque spending

        With the amount of money Hagerty has in his campaign coffers, he will be spending enough, per resident, to buy this election. This is a repeat of what Bloomberg did when he ran for mayor in NYC. All too frequently in recent years, elections are bought and paid for in our country. Only we, the voters, can work to change this terrible systemic problem. We need to learn the issues and not be swayed by the big money that is being spent to ensure we "buy" the messaging any candidate is peddling. That being said, the Evanston voter should reject the big money candidate because there is no way he can understand or adequately represent the citizens' interests. He is just another tool of the business interests in this city and we will only get more of the same disturbing pattern… revenue before residents.

        1. Mayoral Race

          I am always discouraged by comments urging others to "grow up" or "get a life." It would seem that valid criticism or analysis are beyond those who make these childish comments. Hierarchical relationships are a hallmark of the manner in which are community priorities are developed by the city administration and the University. From city expenditures to planning and development, those with ample resources are in a far better postion to influence public decisionmaking than those homeowners and renters who must work harder for less every day, while seeing their taxes climb and be expended in a manner that is less than beneficial to their part of town. I would hope that an honest discussion of the disproportianate and skewed priorities of our feckless City Council and government will transcend the childish comments of a few and begin to address the serious imbalances that serve to undermine the future of this community. 

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