Daniel Biss, 43, is a candidate for mayor in the Feb. 23 Evanston primary. He’s a former Illinois state senator and college math professor.
Evanston Now’s Jeff Hirsh interviewed Biss about key issues in the campaign, including police staffing, affordable housing and the city’s reparations program.
Biss also offered the following information on his background and what he views as the key issues in the campaign in response to an Evanston Now questionnaire.
Daniel grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and moved to Illinois after completing his Bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the age of 25, he joined the University of Chicago’s mathematics faculty.
Daniel and his wife Karin have lived in Evanston since 2006, where they have raised two kids.
Daniel was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2010 and the Illinois Senate in 2012. During his time in state government, Daniel developed a reputation for forwarding pragmatic and progressive solutions to policy problems covering a wide range of policy issues.
He earned numerous recognitions for this work, including the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Legislator of the Year award, the Richard J. Phelan Profile in Courage Award from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action and designation as one of Crain’s Chicago 40 Under 40.
Daniel is running for mayor because at a time when our community is juggling multiple crises from COVID to racial injustice, and so much more, a community like Evanston should be leading the nation in solving these issues in a bold, progressive manner.
Daniel has the experience of working with state and federal leaders, across all levels of government, to get things done, and that is the experience he will take into his role as mayor.
The first key issue our city must face is combatting COVID. We must continue to provide clear communications to our residents and also work to support those struggling most through this pandemic. Furthermore, we must accelerate the equitable distribution of the vaccine as more of it becomes available.
As mayor, I will work to reimagine the way we provide for public safety in Evanston. While police are the only branch of our municipal government that’s authorized to deploy force, many public safety problems are not best addressed by using force. I will work with community stakeholders to create a truly shared system of public safety that has the values of equity and anti-racism at its core.
Affordability is a fundamental crisis that threatens our diversity, the stability and sustainability of our community, and our economic vitality and tax base. I am committed to focus relentlessly on affordability as we rethink our zoning and building codes, and our housing policy — not to mention budgetary decisions, given the enormous share of our tax burden currently borne by middle-class families.
Finally, we must work to implement the Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP). The plan itself is a terrific start, but its implementation will be the truly challenging part, requiring an overhaul of our building code, zoning ordinances, and more.