Democratic Party of Evanston activists are setting up shop in new a new, smaller space on Custer Avenue this month after finding it difficult to pay the rent on their storefront headquarters on heavily-travelled Chicago Avenue.
DPOE President Brian Miller said he doesn’t consider the new space at 747 Custer Ave. less prominent.
“But it is cheaper,” Miller said. “We’re trying to be leaner and meaner so we can spend money on things we really need to do like turning out voters and building an organization.”
State campaign finance disclosure reports show that the party gets by on receipts of about $60,000 a year. And it’s been paying more than a third of that — or about $2,200 a month, Miller says, in rent on the old office in the Leffingwell Building at 821 Chicago Ave.
And that figure didn’t include utilities. By contrast, Miller says, the new space on Custer costs only $1,100 a month, including utilities.
The new DPOE spot on Custer — with a display of locally-produced campaign buttons in the window.
In addition to contributions from about 400 individual members that start at $30 a year, the party is heavily dependent on fund transfers from the committees of local elected officials and on individual contributions from those officials.
It received $24,500 from those sources in the 12 months ending in June 2012 and an additional $5,344 in the 12 month period ending this June.
And it took an in-kind contribution of $5,100 this summer from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s committee to let the party pay off the remaining rent it owed on the Chicago Avenue office.
But at least one party activist is disappointed by the move. Nancy Traver says former State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg really pushed to relocate to Chicago Avenue “to give us more visibility.”
“That really helped. We were one of the most active local Democratic Party organizations in the state,” Traver said, “but now it’s just fallen apart.”
Traver says even the party website has gone dormant and that she’s not received emails from the group recently.
“I was a member, but I haven’t heard from the DPOE in a year, so I haven’t paid dues and haven’t been reminded,” she says.
Miller says the website problem occurred because the volunteer who had been maintaining it moved away and that he’s working to regain control over the domain and get a new site up and running.
Party members are scheduled to meet at the new headquarters Sunday at 7 p.m. to select a township party committeeman to replace Schoenberg, who has resigned.