Two candidates are on the April 6 ballot for Evanston city clerk — Cynthia Beebe and Stephanie Mendoza.
Mendoza was the only candidate whose name was on the primary ballot. She received 9,941 votes. There were also six write-in candidates. Cynthia Beebe received 1,076 write-in votes, more than the 922 needed to qualify for the general election ballot.
We asked both candidates to respond to several questions.
QUESTION: Why are you running for this office?
MENDOZA: “I decided to run for clerk because it encompasses a lot of the work that I’ve been doing for the past six years,” such as outreach to the community. Political consultant/community organizer/nonprofit activist/now Director of Community Outreach for Evanston Latinos. “I love government transparency.”
BEEBE: There has been controversy in the clerk’s office the past four years. “I think I’d be able to bring a more professional approach. “Incredibly well suited” for the job, due to government career (retired ATF agent/nearly 30 years), goal-oriented and skilled in organization. Encouraged to run by others and exceeded write-in threshold to qualify for general election ballot.
QUESTION: What are your top priorities and would you institute any changes?
BEEBE: “First of all, re-establish the clerk’s office as a professional, welcoming office for everyone where people can get problems solved and questions answered.” Clerk handles the City’s business records/re-establish handling them in an “efficient and timely manner.”
MENDOZA: Bring focus back to community engagement. “Renew the trust between the community and the City.” Streamline Freedom of Information requests. Make sure the office is an up-to-date hub for everyone. “Bring the office into this century.”
QUESTION: How would you improve services for Evanston’s citizens?
MENDOZA: Make sure the data base is up to date and available to the public. Use technology to encourage voting and improve voter education. Establish transition plan for when a new clerk is elected. “Every four years we re-invent the wheel.” See how other communities increase money for the office/use for training lost due to budget cuts. “Municipal elections are where we see change first.”
BEEBE: Modernize the office and improve communication. Give voters more election information: “There always seems to be a degree of confusion for voters and candidates about Evanston elections.” This has been going on probably “for 40 years.” “Eliminate any confusion” about elections, so people know what’s going on. Make the office a center of clarity and efficiency.
QUESTION: Why should the voters choose you instead of your opponent?
BEEBE: “I have vastly more professional experience with government.” Will work hard to “reach out to the entire community and improve the Clerk’s Office.” Re-establish it as a professional and valuable asset to the City. Was encouraged to run as a write in by many. Endorsed by former Mayor Tisdahl, former D65 Board Pres. Chow, and others.
MENDOZA: “I’m the only one providing solid plans on moving forward.” Compare candidate web sites. “I know the community” due to outreach experience. Ability to restore trust. “We need someone in the clerk’s office who is willing to be a good liaison to the community.” Has outreach experience. “I have the skills and the plans to get it done.” Endorsed by Democratic Party of Evanston, Rep. Schakowsky, and others.
QUESTION: The Clerk’s Office is administrative rather than legislative. Should the Clerk be appointed instead of being elected?
MENDOZA: Up to the public, but believes position should be elected. Evanston has a high degree of citizen participation, and people “should have a say in who is in charge of record keeping and transparency.” Having an elected clerk builds “an extra layer of trust, and taking it away would be detrimental.”
BEEBE: Having an elected Clerk “is beneficial to the city because the clerk is independent of the mayor and council.” Independent clerk can speak freely. Citizens can vote the Clerk out if they are not happy. “There is accountability every four years.”